Phar Lap, the legendary Australian racing horse, is as well-known today for his mysterious death as for his fabulous accomplishments in life. Beginning at the end, the film flashes back to the day that Phar Lap, despite his lack of pedigree, is purchased on impulse by trainer Harry Telford. Phar Lap loses his first races, but Telford's faith in the animal is unshakable. Suddenly the horse becomes a winner, thanks to the love and diligence of stableboy Tommy Woodcock. American-promoter Dave Davis arranges for Phar Lap to be entered in several top races, where his "long shot" status results in heavy losses for the professional gamblers. Just after winning an important race in Mexico, Phar Lap collapses and dies; though the film never comes out and says as much, it is assumed that the horse was "murdered" by the gambling interests.
13 April 1984 (USA)
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Also Known As:
A Horse Called Phar Lap
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Gross USA: $2,878,404
Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $2,878,404
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Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?
Billy Eliot, Phar Lap's jockey at Agua Caliente had been devastated by Phar Lap's mysterious death, gave his saddle to George Woolf as a gesture of friendship. Woolf went on to become one of America's greatest riders, using the saddle on his favourite mount, Seabiscuit
(2003), who, like Phar Lap, captivated a nation in the midst of the depression. The saddle was Woolf's lucky charm. From that date on until the time of his death he used it. Coincidentally, the only time he did not use it, from the time when Elliot gifted it to Woolf, was in his last race which he, unfortunately, was killed in. See more
Early in the film, in early 1928, Phar Lap's trainer Harry Telford (Martin Vaughan) insists that the horse's name must contain seven letters, because the names of the last four Melbourne Cup winners had contained seven letters. In fact, only one of the previous four Melbourne Cup winners in the period in question, 1924-27, had seven letters in its name - Windbag, in 1925. The other winners in that period were Backwood (1924), Spearfelt (1926) and Trivalve (1927). Nor did the subsequent 1928 winner, Statesman, nor the 1929 winner, Nightmarch (to whom Phar Lap ran third), have seven letters in their names. See more
Radio news reader
The Wall Street stock market crash has caused a crisis in the American economy. The 3-year-old racehorse Phar Lap continues his run of good luck.
The original release opens with Phar Lap's death, with the rest of the film told in flashback. For it's American release where the story of Phar Lap is less known, the opening was removed, making Phar Lap's unexpected death more dramatic. See more
Phar Lap - Farewell to You
Written by Jack Lumsdaine (as Lumsden)
Vocal: Brian Hannan See more