Phar Lap memorial

Phar Lap memorial

The plaque on the memorial reads: ‘This statue was erected to commemorate the birthplace of champion thoroughbred racehorse PHAR LAP born on this property 4th October 1926. Died California 5th April 1932. 51 race starts. 31 wins. 5 placings. Total earnings 66,738 pounds.’

Although the race horse Phar Lap was trained and came to prominence in Australia, most notably winning the 1930 Melbourne Cup, he was born in Seadown, New Zealand on the property at which this statue now stands. A bronze statue commemorating this fact was unveiled in nearby Timaru in 2009.

Phar Lap has gained iconic status in New Zealand and Australia since his outstanding performance in dozens of races during the Depression era of the early 1930s. Standing 17.1 (1.74 m) hands high, Phar Lap’s enormous body helped him to achieve the impressive statistic of 37 wins (not 31 as incorrectly indicated on the plaque) from 51 races, as well as 5 second or third placings.

Phar Lap died in 1932 amid suspicions that he had been fed poisoned grass, although the true cause of death has never been established. In death both New Zealand and Australia wanted its share of the champion’s remains. His heart, which weighed an incredible 6.3 kg, went to Canberra while the Museum of Victoria in Melbourne obtained his hide. His bones were returned to New Zealand and the complete skeleton is on display at Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand in Wellington.

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