Cindy Crank

Phar Lap

Everything you knew about the death of champion racehorse Phar Lap is probably wrong.

The Great Depression descended upon the world in 1929, and Phar Lap, a gangly legged, spotty faced horse with few redeeming features made his first inauspicious steps onto the racecourses of Australia. He won just one race after four starts and was the brunt of more than a few jokes.

Yet, from 1930 to 1932 he would win 32 races including the prestigious Melbourne Cup and the Agua Caliente in Mexico. Just weeks later, the horse who had given people a ray of hope and a reason to smile amidst grinding poverty and unemployment was dead. His demise had all the elements of an international whodunit including possible poisonings and mafia involvement. The suspected causes of Phar Lap’s death have swirled around like chaff thrown to the wind for decades and the world thought they had heard them all.

Tommy Woodcock, Phar Lap’s groom, had harbored a terrible secret since 1932. When the secret was finally revealed, the tragic tale of Phar Lap’s death had just taken another twisted turn and the stunning revelation shocked and shamed the nation that loved “Bobby” and those associated with the “Red Terror”.

Nothing in the Phar Lap saga was as it seemed.

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Cindy Crank
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