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Phar Lap

Phar Lap, was a thoroughbred horse, born in Timaru[?], New Zealand in 1926 who is considered by many to be one of the worlds greatest racehorses.

He was purchased for just over $300 and brought to Australia by the new owner, American-born sportsman, David J. Davis. In his four years of racing, Phar Lap won 37 of the 51 races in which he was entered, including the prestigious Melbourne Cup. Between 1930 and 1931, he won fourteen races in a row. It was in 1930, that someone, believed to have been a bookmaker losing vast amounts of money, tried to shoot the horse.

For his final race, Phar Lap's owner shipped him by boat all the way to a racetrack near Tijuana, Mexico to compete in the Agua Caliente Handicap which he won in a track record time. From there, the horse was sent to a private ranch near Menlo Park, California while his owner negotiated with racetrack officials for special race appearances.

Early on April 5, 1932, the horse's trainer found him in severe pain, carrying a high temperature. Within a few hours, Phar Lap hemorrhaged to death. Much speculation ensued, and when an autopsy revealed that the horse's stomach and intestines were inflamed, many believed the horse had been deliberately poisoned.

So fond of the horse were the people of Australia and New Zealand that following his death, his heart was donated to the Institute of Anatomy in Canberra and his skeleton to the New Zealand National Museum in Wellington. After preparations of the hide by a New York City taxidermist, his stuffed body was placed in the Australia Gallery at Melbourne Museum.

Several books have been written about the horse as well as a song and a film.



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