Story: Australia and New Zealand

Phar Lap

Phar Lap

The distribution of racehorse Phar Lap’s body after his mysterious death in San Francisco in 1932 emphasised how much he was a hero on both sides of the Tasman. Phar Lap's skeleton went to his country of birth, New Zealand, while his hide and heart went to Australia, where he ran all but his last race. Horse racing was a shared passion of the two countries, and in the midst of the economic depression Phar Lap’s successes on the racecourse brought cheer to New Zealanders and Australians. After being sold to an Australian owner in 1928, he won the Melbourne Cup in 1930 and then the world’s richest race, the Agua Caliente Handicap, in 1932, three weeks before he was apparently poisoned. In all Phar Lap won 37 of his 51 races.

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Image sources: Phar Lap: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, O.009451; skeleton: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, LM000760; heart: National Museum of Australia, 1984.0010.0721; hide: Museum Victoria

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How to cite this page:

Philippa Mein Smith, 'Australia and New Zealand - Common culture', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/33146/phar-lap (accessed 25 May 2020)

Story by Philippa Mein Smith, published 20 Jun 2012