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.
He was the long shot...heard 'round the world.
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Did You Know?
Phar Lap won 37 races (out of 51). His record included sequences of nine, fourteen, and eight wins. In an amazing burst as a three year-old, Phar Lap won the Rosehill Guineas, A.J.C. Derby and Craven Plate, and V.R.C. Derby before being beaten into third place in the 1929 Melbourne Cup. As the weights he was asked to carry rose, he tended to be entered in weight-for-age events where the weights are fixed depending upon the horse's age. 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
Can't you fire that guy?
If I did, the goddamn horse would sit in the stall for the next month and cry.
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
Referenced in Emerald City
There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder
Music by Dave Dreyer
Lyrics by Al Jolson
and Billy Rose See more