The Death Of Phar Lap

Essay by affyJunior High, 9th gradeB+, March 2009

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When Phar Lap died on April 5, 1932, every Australian felt that one of the world's hero's had left them inexpediently. The nation was left in mourning. Phar Lap was foaled on 4 October 1926 in Timaru in the South Island of New Zealand. He was sold to the trainer H.R. Telford with financial assistance from Mr. J Davies. They paid 160 'guineas,' which was considered very cheap.

Phar Lap is Australia's most famous race and many would argue he was the greatest race horse is history. He ran his first race in February 1929. His form on that occasion did not suggest that he would ever be a galloper out of the ordinary. It was not until April that he finally broke through with a win. His success grew after being rested for the winter and he came third that year in the Melbourne cup. The next year he won the Melbourne cup, surrounded by extreme interest.

In 1931, three days before the Melbourne Cup, Phar Lap was shot at, without result. After being shot at, in the morning, Phar Lap went on to win the Melbourne stakes that afternoon. Three days later, Phar Lap won the cup in usual style despite the scare earlier that week. Phar Lap went on to win 37 of 51 races of which he was entered during his 4 year racing career. This truly was an amazing horse.

After the 1931 Cup, Phar Lap was shipped over to America to face fiercer competition and have a chance at bigger stakes. While resting in San Francisco, Phar Lap was overcome by fever and panic. Phar Lap died in his trainers' arms 24 hours later. To this day there are several theories surrounding the cause of death but the truth is still unknown. Some think he was poisoned deliberately or accidentally and other scientists think he died of a particular gastroenteritis.

The significance of the death of Phar Lap can be seen in the reaction of the Australian nation. People truly mourned him. Flags were flown at half mast. This would be the only time in history the death of an animal was mourned in such an official, public manner. Phar Lap was loved by Australians who saw a battler, a horse bought for a small price, not seen as special but who grew into a champion. Aussies love to hear stories of success from small beginnings. Phar Laps' era was during the depression, he gave hope to the Australians battling to feed themselves, find work and keep a roof over their heads. He was a distraction from the despair they felt in their everyday lives. Aussies love a champion!Bibliography: