PHAR LAP – Australia's wonder horse
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Phar Lap was bought as a yearling in 1928 by trainer Harry Telford. Phar Lap was foaled in New Zealand and carried the bloodlines of the great racehorse Carbine who had won the Melbourne Cup in 1890 as well as many other significant races.
When Phar Lap was a young horse he was considered to be plain looking yet he soon blossomed into one of the finest thoroughbreds known, standing 17.1 hands high. He had strong and powerful hind legs and his heart weighed 6.2 kgs which is nearly double the size of a normal horse!
Phar Lap's strapper was Tommy Woodcock. The two had a wonderful relationship, spending many hours together. Sometimes Tommy even slept beside him at night. Phar Lap was known to pull up at full gallop at track-work at Randwick when he caught a glimpse of Tommy at the side of the track.
Phar Lap was ridden by one of the best jockeys of all time, Jim Pike. Jim Pike was born in New South Wales in 1892 and rode his first winner at the age of 13. He won 27 races on Phar Lap from 30 rides.
After a convincing victory in the W.S. Cox Plate, Phar Lap looked towards the 1930 Melbourne Cup Carnival. After a frightening experience when someone tried to shoot him walking back from morning trackwork Phar Lap was still composed enough to win the Melbourne Stakes at Flemington racecourse that afternoon. Three days later he went on to win the Melbourne Cup, carrying 62.5 kgs over the two mile distance.
Two days later he returned to Flemington to win the Linlithgow Stakes and two days afterwards he returned to win the C.B. Fisher Plate on Final Day. This performance has not been matched again.
After these successes Phar Lap, his strapper Tommy Woodcock and fill-in rider Billy Elliott all travelled by boat to Mexico to compete in the 1932 Agua Caliente Handicap. This was the richest race in the world and Phar Lap won.
Less than two weeks later, Phar Lap appeared unwell and distressed in his stables at Menlo Park, California. His distraught strapper Tommy Woodcock comforted Phar Lap as they waited for the vet. Upon realising the seriousness of the situation, the vet left to seek further help, but by the time he came back Phar Lap was dead.
News of his death rocked the racing world, especially in Australia and New Zealand where he had become a household name. The reason for his death was noted as acute colic but many suspected foul play.
In his career, Phar Lap had 37 wins, 3 seconds and 2 thirds from 51 starts. He won 32 of his last 35 races.
Phar Lap's vital stats
| Race record
|| 51 starts: 37 wins, 3 seconds and 2 thirds
| Prize money
|| £56,425, plus $US50,000
|| Night Raid - Entreaty (by Winkie)
||Timaru, New Zealand, 4 October 1926
||Menlo Park, California, 5 April 1932
||David Davis & Harry Telford
A record-breaker and a crowd favourite
Phar Lap was often race favourite and in his Melbourne Cup victory of 1930 he was 8/11 favourite, the shortest price ever recorded by a winning favourite in a Melbourne Cup.
Phar Lap's victory in the Melbourne Cup was the first for jockey Jim Pike who was having his 14th ride in the Cup and the first for trainer Harry Telford.
Phar Lap won races on each of the four days of the 1930 Flemington Cup Carnival, an amazing performance for any horse.
From 51 race starts, Phar Lap won 37 races.
Timeline of Phar Lap's life
|4 October 1926
|Chestnut colt foaled at Timaru in New Zealand.
| 24 January 1928
|| The unnamed Phar Lap was sold for 160 guineas to Hugh Telford on behalf of Hugh’s brother Harry at the Trentham Yearling sale.
| 23 February 1929
|| Phar Lap begins racing career.
| 27 April 1929
|| Phar Lap wins first race at Rosehill, NSW.
| 5 October 1929
| Phar Lap wins AJC (Australian Jockey Club) Derby in NSW.
| 5 November 1929
| Phar Lap comes 3rd in the Melbourne Cup.
| 25 October 1930
| Phar Lap wins the W.S. Cox Plate.
| 1 November 1930
|| Attempt made on Phar Lap’s life at Caulfield racetrack.
| 4 November 1930
| Phar Lap wins the Melbourne Cup.
| 24 October 1931
|| Phar Lap wins the WS Cox Plate again.
| 20 November 1931
|| Phar Lap shipped to New Zealand for a spell and then on to America.
| 20 March 1932
|| Phar Lap wins the Agua Caliente Handicap in Mexico in record time.
| 5 April 1932
|| Phar Lap dies at Menlo Park in California.
CARBINE – the first Australasian champion
Carbine was perhaps the greatest racehorse ever bred in the southern hemisphere. Carbine was born in New Zealand in 1885, and while he had some early racing there, his great racing achievements were in Sydney and Melbourne.
When Carbine won the Melbourne Cup in 1890 he beat the largest field of 39 starters and carried the greatest winning weight ever (66kgs). No horse had ever won with this huge weight, and many believed that this would more than test the great horse, but in the end he won with authority. No horse has ever equalled this weight since.
He also won back to back Sydney Cups in 1889-90 before becoming an outstanding stallion and sire of other winners.
Carbine was a horse with a unique personality. He was usually a very gentle horse however he disliked being beaten in races, and when this happened his attendants would keep out of his way. He hated rain and would refuse to train in the wet and so would be taken to the track with an umbrella over his head. This lead to his trainer developing an elaborate contraption similar to a miniature umbrella that fitted over Carbine's ears keeping his head dry in wet weather.
Career race record: 43 starts, 33 wins, 6 seconds, 3 thirds, 1 unplaced.
Carbine and Phar Lap: a family connection
Phar Lap's bloodline can be traced back to Carbine through both his sire (father) and dam (mother)!
MAKYBE DIVA – the only three-time Melbourne Cup winner
Makybe Diva is considered to be one of the greatest mares of all time being the only horse to win three Melbourne Cups in a row in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In her 2005 Emirates Melbourne Cup win, the bay mare carried a huge weight of 58 kilos, the heaviest weight ever carried by a mare.
In her amazing career she won 16 races. Her best wins were her last two runs where she won the W.S. Cox Plate and the Emirates Melbourne Cup.
Her trainer Lee Freedman said Makybe Diva had been the best horse he had trained in his career. After her third Emirates Melbourne Cup win in 2005, Makybe Diva was retired.
How Makybe Diva got her name
Makybe Diva got her name when her owner Tony Santic combined the first two letters from the names of five women who worked in one of his offices!
Famous people in horse racing
Bart Cummings is one of Australia’s finest horse trainers.
Bart first tasted the experience of Melbourne Cup success when he was strapper for his father's horse Comic Court in 1950. It was Light Fingers in 1965 who gave Bart his first win in the Melbourne Cup. In 2008 Viewed gave Cummings his 12th Emirates Melbourne Cup win, seven more than the next best record which is shared by Etienne de Mestre and Lee Freedman.
Adelaide born Cummings as a child was advised that he had an allergy to horses and chaff. This didn’t stop his passion and now dubbed the "Cups King" because of his amazing record in such races, Cummings has won the Melbourne Cup with Light Fingers (1965); Galilee (1966); Red Handed (1967); Think Big 1974-75); Gold And Black (1977); Hyperno (1979); Kingston Rule (1990); Let's Elope (1991); Saintly (1996) Rogan Josh (1999) and Viewed (2008).
His record of Melbourne Cups wins will be difficult to break. Lee Freedman has won five Melbourne Cups -Tawrrific (1989), Subzero (1992), Doriemus (1995) and Maykbe Diva (2004 & 2005), but has a long way to go to beat Bart’s record.
In the 1800s Etienne de Mestre had 5 winners, Archer (1861-1862), Tim Whiffler (1867) Chester (1877) and Calamia (1878).
Lee Freedman is from a well-known racing family and his involvement in the day-to-day running of the family's thoroughbred business soon became his passion.
Tawrrific was Freedman's first Melbourne Cup runner in 1988, finishing 12th behind Empire Rose. In 1989, Tawrrific beat stablemate Super Impose in the Melbourne Cup, which Freedman cites as his most memorable moment in racing.
Lee had an incredible season in 1992-1993, winning the Caulfield Cup (Mannerism), W.S. Cox Plate (Super Impose) and Subzero gave him his second Melbourne Cup.
In 2004, Freedman took over 2003 Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva, training the wonder mare to win another two Melbourne Cups, a W.S. Cox Plate, Australian Cup and a BMW Stakes. Until Makybe Diva, Freedman regarded his best horses as Super Impose but he has also trained wonderful horses including Paris Lane, Doriemus, Don Eduardo, Serenade Rose, Benicio, Mummify and Miss Andretti.
His tally of five Melbourne Cup wins sees him equal with Etienne de Mestre, and second only to Bart Cummings (12 wins).
Adelaide-born Jim Johnson was one of Australia's most successful jockeys.
Born in 1929, Johnson quit the saddle in 1976 after a stellar 32-year career which yielded more than 2,100 winners - among them three Melbourne Cups and two Cox Plates.
Johnson's Melbourne Cup successes came first on Gatum Gatum in 1963 and then in successive years on Rain Lover in 1968-69. Of all the rides he had, Tobin Bronze and Rain Lover were the two best horses he rode.
Late in his career, Johnson rode in Singapore and won the jockeys' premiership there in 1972 and 1973.
Johnson is still very active in the racing industry today and his advice is regularly sought from current senior and apprentice jockeys.
The Lexus Melbourne Cup is Australia's richest and most famous horse race. This spectacular event is held every year on the first Tuesday in November and it is run over 3200 metres. In 2010, the Cup was run for the 150th time.
In 1877, the Cup was run on the first Tuesday in November and everyone got the day off work and school and we still do all these years later.
The Melbourne Cup is known as the 'the race that stops a nation™'. This is because many people attend the racecourse and millions of people around Australia and around the world get together to watch the race on the television.
The Lexus Melbourne Cup is made of 18 carat gold and is worth $200,000 dollars. It has a very special design with three handles which represent the trainer, the jockey and the owner.
Melbourne Cup records
|Fastest time ever:
| 3.16.30 Kingston Rule (1990)
| Biggest win ever:
| 8 lengths by Archer in 1862 and Rain Lover in 1968
| Heaviest weight carried:
| Carbine in 1890 won the race with 65.5 kg.
Makybe Diva holds the record for a winning mare with 58 kg in 2005.
The horse to carry the heaviest weight of all time was Phar Lap in 1931 when he carried 68kg and ran 8th.
| 34 of 149 favourites (23%) have won the Melbourne Cup.
| Most horses in the race:
| 39 (1890) won by Carbine
| Fewest horses in the race:
| 7 (1863) won by Banker
| Most attempts to win:
| Shadow King made six attempts to win the Cup in seven years between 1929 and 1935. He ran 6th, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd and 4th. How unlucky!
The Lexus Melbourne Cup Trophy
The Lexus Melbourne Cup Trophy is a stunning 18 carat gold trophy valued at $200,000.
Noted for its "Loving Cup" design, the trophy is one of the most identifiable sporting trophies anywhere in the world. It is a national icon embedded in Australia's cultural fabric and strikes many emotions with all ages around the country.
The Cup, as we know it today, was first designed by Mr James Steeth in readiness for the 1919 Melbourne Cup won by Artilleryman. He was commissioned by the VRC to design the trophy which would be in keeping with the prestige of the race. Little did the committee, or Steeth for that matter, realise that they would develop the icon we know today.
In 1980, the making of the Cup was then entrusted to Hardy Brothers Jewellers and the same processes commenced in 1919 are still adopted today. It is made of 34 pieces of gold metal hand beaten over 250 hours.
The Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour
Every year the Melbourne Cup trophy goes on an adventure around Australia and New Zealand before it is handed over to the lucky winner of the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
The tour every year travels to over 30 communities around Australia and New Zealand, it might just be coming to your home town or even your school!
Over the past 10 years, the 18-carat gold Lexus Melbourne Cup has travelled more than 325,000 kilometres, visiting 236 towns and cities, and meeting tens of thousands of people!
It visits various destinations in an effort to unite communities by engaging councils, schools, hospitals, aged-care and racing groups in events to raise funds for local causes.
Living up to its status as the ‘People’s Cup’, in 2012 the Tour visited 35 schools and 22 hospitals and aged care facilities, participating in more than 87 community events, including street parades, civic receptions, charity dinners, community barbeques and cocktail parties.
Some fast facts about the Cup:
- It weighs 4kgs.
- It is worth $200,000.
- It takes 250 hours to make.
- There have only been 4 different people who have made the Cup trophy since 1919.
- It is made out of 18ct gold.
- It is 360mm tall.