Sydney trainer Harry Telford had researched
the pedigrees of the yearlings to go through the Trentham Yearling Sales in January 1928.
His pick of the sale was Lot 41 who was by an unknown sire in Night Raid from an
unknown mare in Entreaty. However what drew him to this yearling was the calibre of
the remainder of the pedigree. There were 17 individual winners of the most sought
after races in the UK the Epsom Derby and the 2000 Guineas. There were double ups of
only two names in the first 6 generations the great sire St Simon and Australian sensation
Musket through the greatest Australian racehorse to that time in Carbine and another son
Harry Telford was keen to buy the yearling
but couldn't travel to New Zealand. Instead he got his brother Hugh to bid on his
behalf. On January 24 1928 the final lot of the sale was offered a gangly unbranded
chestnut son of Night Raid and Entreaty. Trainer Sid Reid was bidding on behalf of a
client and answered Hugh Telford bids until the price reached 150guineas. With one more
bid of 160 guineas the chestnut colt was on his way to the Sydney stables of Harry
Night Raid was a bay colt bred by F Stern in 1918 and had 6
starts as a 2yo in the UK with his best results when he ran third in a Selling Nursery on
25th May 1920 and a third in a Juvenile Selling Plate at Salisbury on July 7 1920.
Soon after he was sold to the English trainer J McGuigan who was purchasing horses to send
to the Sydney trainer Peter Keith. Night Raid was sent to Australia with a horse
called Cymric who was rated the better types by judges in England. However on
arrival in Australia their new owner preferred Night Raid of the pair. Night Raid
had a short racing career in Australia where his best results were a dead heat victory and
a third placing. He was then sold to AP Wade to stand at stud in Wagga NSW.
With results not very promising he was then sold to AF Roberts of Seadown Stud in New
Zealand at Timaru on the South Island. In 1925 Night Raid sired the champion
galloper in both NZ and Australia Nightmarch while in 1926 he got Phar Lap. A gap
until 1929 where he sired the stakeswinners Aesculus (Hawkes Bay Cup) and Pillowfight
(Avondale Guineas). His 1930 crop included Wheriko (Telegraph Hcp), Nightly
(multiple stakeswinner in both Australia and NZ) and Blixten (Fernhill Hcp & Rosehill
Guineas) but then it was another three crops until he produced the West Australian
stakeswinner in Winbyie. The Cardinal (Avondale Cup) emerged from the 1935 crop
while in 1937 three stakeswinners in Platform, Nightbeam (AJC Metropolitan) and Night
Pilot were foaled. Night Raid's final stakeswinner was Authentic the winner of the
1947 Timaru Cup.
Entreaty raced only once in the UK before breaking down.
Then she too was purchased for stud duties and exported to New Zealand.
Sent to Night Raid she produced the first of 13 foals a filly in 1925 named
Fortune's Wheel. While she was unknown as a racehorse at stud this filly was the grand dam
of the stakeswinner Hot Pursuit and is the fourth dam to the stakeswinner Our Shout and
his sister McAngus. McAngus is the grand dam of turf great Sunline. In 1926
Entreaty foaled the colt that was to become Phar Lap. In 1927 she foaled Nea Lap who
went to the United States and foaled Four Freedoms. Entreaty's next three foals were
the colts Nightguard, All Clear and Friday Night before another filly in Te Uira.
Entreaty's final foal to Night Raid was Raphis who became the dam of stakeswinners Count
Cyrano, John O'London and Swingalong. In 1936 Entreaty produced the colt Ilam Way by
Iliad then went to Nightmarch for her final three foals. These were Enticing (grand
dam of multiple stakeswinner Picaroon), Vindicator and Sable.
When the chestnut yearling arrived in Sydney Harry Telford
had convinced the American David Davis that the colt was worth the purchase price.
However when they first saw the yearling he left his new owner in horror. He looked
miserable and to keep David Davis calm after seeing the horse Harry Telford offered to
lease him for three years with a third of any winnings going to Davis.
Phar Lap proved docile and easy to break in and was lazy
when he started to be put into work. After returning from a spell to prepare for
racing Harry Telford decided to strengthen the 2yo by working him through the coastal sand
hills. During this time Tommy Woodcock who had been freelancing as a stable hand
formed a bond with Phar Lap and soon Harry Telford declared that Tom Woodcock would be the
sole strapper of Phar Lap.
On Feb 23 1929 Phar Lap made his debut in a 5 ½ furlong
Nursery Hcp. Carrying 43kg he missed the start and didn't appear to try in the race
finishing well back behind Exact. He was then taken to Hawkesbury for his second run
and again finished down the track. Phar Lap was again unplaced at Rosehill before
lining up in the Easter Stakes over 7 furlongs at Randwick. As Carradale edged out
Sir Ribble Phar Lap was again at the tail of the field. Four weeks later Phar Lap started
to put it together in the Juvenile Hcp over 6 furlongs at Rosehill. Carrying 48.5kg
he settled in the field as Pure Tea led until the 200m where he challenged and strode the
front winning by 1 ½ lengths from Voleuse with Pure Tea third.
Phar Lap was then spelled for the spring. On August
3rd he returned with another unplaced run at Warwick Farm. Two weeks later he lined
up in a 3yo Hcp at Rosehill over 7 furlongs. Coming to the 400m Phar Lap powered to
the front but in the straight he was run down finishing 8th behind the dead heaters
Firbolg and King Crow. A week later Phar Lap lined up in the 3yo & 4yo Hcp over
7 furlongs at Rosehill. Also in the field was the 4yo Nzer Nightmarch but neither
figured in the finish with Nightmarch 7th and Phar Lap 8th while the favourite Ticino won.
Phar Lap then lined up in the Warwick Stakes with the
future staying trips in mind. Established stars fought out the race with Limerick
winning from Mollison with Winalot third as the 3yo Phar Lap ran on late for fourth.
His next start was the WFA Chelmsford Stakes where Phar Lap carried 47kg while
rivals Winalot carried 62kg and Mollison 59kg. Turning for home Mollison led Phar
Lap and Winalot and that's how they stayed to the line with Mollison holding off Phar Lap
by half a length with three lengths to Winalot in third.
Returning to 3yo class Phar Lap then lined up in the
Rosehill Guineas over 9 furlongs as favourite. Despite no luck in running Phar Lap
powered past the opposition to race to a three length victory from Lorason with Holdfast
third. Two weeks later it was on to the Derby. Starting as the 5-4 favourite
Phar Lap gave nothing else a chance racing away to win in race record time by 3 ½ lengths
over Carradale with a further 8 lengths to Honour third. Four days later Phar Lap
easily won the Craven Plate carrying a luxury 48kg while Mollision was second and Amounis
a further 10 lengths away third.
The find of the spring carnival in Sydney then travelled by
train to Melbourne where he was stabled near Caulfield. In the VRC Derby he was slow
to start then dropped back to last. By the 2000m he started to pull so Jim Pike
allowed him to stride along. By the post the 2-9 favourite was in front by two
lengths from Carradale with Taisho a half length away third. Again Phar Lap had set a race
record in winning. It was then onto the Melbourne Cup with only Phar Lap, High Syce,
Nightmarch, Winalot and Carradale thought to be good enough to win the race.
Soon after they jumped Phar Lap ridden by lightweight Bobby
Lewis started to pull and he fought the jockey until about 1200m from home where he strode
to a three length lead. Held a big lead well into the straight until the 250m where
the early effort took its toll and Nightmarch raced past to win by three lengths from
Pacquito with Phar Lap a length away third. During his summer spell Phar Lap
developed and filled out becoming the big strong horse he is remembered as.
First up Phar Lap didn't appear to want to try for Bobbie
Lewis with the best he could manage was third to Amounis and Parsee in the St George
Stakes over 9 furlongs. Next he stepped out in the VRC St Leger run a fortnight
later. With regular jockey Jim Pike back aboard Phar Lap raced away to win by 5
lengths from Sir Ribbie with Lineage third in race record time. Five days later as
odds-on favourite he won the Governor's Plate by 4 lengths ridden by W Elliott from
Lineage and High Syce third a further 4 lengths in arrears. Two days later in
the King's Plate Phar Lap was in a race of his own winning by 20 lengths from Second Wind
with three lengths to third placed Lineage.
Phar Lap then headed back to Sydney for the autumn
carnival. Still receiving weight from other runners nothing else had a chance as
Phar Lap won by two lengths from Amounis with a neck to Nightmarch third. Five days
later on level weights he lined up in the AJC St Leger against two other rivals.
Phar Lap led and during the run was 40 lengths clear of his opponents. By the post
he won with plenty in hand by 3 ½ lengths as the 1-20 favourite from Sir Ribble with
Three horses lined up in the Cumberland Stakes 4 days later
and there was no betting on the race. Phar Lap led and raced up to 30 lengths clear
during the middle stages. Donald chased hard and by the post Phar Lap was in front
by two lengths from Donald with 20 lengths back to Kidaides third.
The AJC Plate again saw three runners but with the presence
of Nightmarch betting was reinstated. Phar Lap was sent out the 2-5 favourite and
was in receipt of 6.5kg from Nightmarch (9-4). Phar Lap led Nightmarch to up to 200m
at one stage during that race and at the line Phar Lap was in front by 10 lengths winning
in Australian record time from Nightmarch with Donald third. Phar Lap then raced outside
Sydney and Melbourne for the only time during his career in Australia. He headed to
the Adelaide carnival for two races the Elder Stakes and King's Cup arriving by train 6
days before he was due to race.
In the Elder Stakes there were only two runners Phar Lap
and Fruition with the latter carrying top weight and conceding 4 kilos. There was no
betting with bookmakers but there was tote betting available at the track. David
Davis gave an agent a sum to bet on Phar Lap in the race but he mistakenly bet on the
number one horse thinking the best horse would be top weight. In the race itself it
was never in doubt with Phar Lap winning by five lengths in a hand canter.
Phar Lap was then entered in the Adelaide Cup on the
Wednesday and was a final acceptor. Due to run with 60.5kg rumours that he wouldn't
run appeared in the lead up to the race. Less than an hour before the start it was
announced the horse was a scratching and would lead the field out instead.
Disgruntled racegoers booed when the horse that appeared wasn't Phar Lap despite looking
very similar. Three days later Phar Lap did take his place in the King's Cup with 5
rivals including the three Adelaide Cup placegetters. Temptation led from the start
followed by Phar Lap then Nadean, Kidaides then Mary Spa. By the 1600m Temptation
was four lengths in front of Phar Lap who was under a strong hold then Nadean with a space
to Mary Spa followed by Kidaides and Kirrkie. Temptation continued to stride freely
in front but it took Jim Pike only to release the brakes and it was all over as Phar Lap
easily by 3 ½ lengths from the dead heaters Nadean and Kirrkie. It was Phar Lap's
9th win straight and he was then spelled for the spring.
Phar Lap returned in the Warwick Stakes on August 30 a race
that he was sent out at 9-10 favourite and expected to continue on his winning streak.
He was slowly away and worked up to fourth by the half way mark. On
straightening Amounis was in front but Phar Lap soon strode up alongside but instead of
going past the leader he started to have to dig deep as the old horse fought back.
The pair went stride for stride to the line with Amounis declared the winner by a short
head with Nightmarch three lengths away in third. Two weeks later Phar
Lap returned to winning form defeating Nightmarch by 2 ½ lengths in the Chelmsford Stakes
before repeat the feat in the Hill Stakes. Phar Lap defeated Nightmarch again in the
Spring Stakes at Randwick and then complete their clashes 4 - nil in the Craven Plate
where Phar Lap won by 6 lengths from Nightmarch with Donald ten lengths away third in
Australian record time. Eventually Nightmarch's owner declared he was sick of
chasing Phar Lap in races and headed back to New Zealand for their features while Phar Lap
continued to dominate.
In a field of three Phar Lap took his fifth race in
succession in the Randwick Plate over 2 miles from Donald and Concentrate before heading
to the Melbourne carnival. Phar Lap was soon scratched from the Caulfield Cup and
betting on the Amounis-Phar Lap cup double increased. Death threats concerning Phar
Lap started to be received and as a result he headed to Melbourne in two parts.
First he travelled by train to Albury staying for a few days then continued to
Melbourne. He soon lined up in the Cox Plate and won effortlessly by four
lengths from Tregilla with Caulfield Cup winner Amounis in third.
A week later Phar Lap was returning from trackwork when a
mysterious car started following Tom Woodcock leading Phar Lap from a pony. Worried
he jammed Phar Lap against a fence blocking him with the pony. The car drew
alongside and shotgun pellets sprayed the fence and path as both horses reared with the
pony bolting with Tom Woodcock holding onto Phar Lap as the car sped off. The
incident created huge headlines and a review of the security training of the horse for the
Melbourne Cup however Phar Lap was uninjured in the incident and lined up in the Mackinnon
later that afternoon. Again Phar Lap defeated Tregilla the time a margin of three
lengths with Amounis again third four lengths away.
Later that night Phar Lap was moved to St Albans Stud near
Geelong (which years ago was sold and redeveloped as housing) and worked on the Monday at
Geelong racecourse accessible less than a mile from the property via a back road.
All was going to plan Cup day until a downpour caused engine problems with the
float. With 1 ½ hours left before the race the engine finally kicked over and Phar
Lap arrived 40 minutes before race time.
Soon after the start Temptation led from Carradale with
Phar Lap back in 7th starting to pull but he soon settled as they raced along
the back straight. Temptation led around the home turn with Phar Lap in a line of four
behind him. Soon after straightening he raced to the front and started to stride
away. Passing the post Phar Lap was in front by three lengths from Second Wind with
Shadow King third.
© 2016 Published 22/01/03