Remains of racehorse Phar Lap may be reunited for Melbourne Cup

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  • The remains of world-famous racehorse Phar Lap may be reunited for the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Cup, a race he won 80 years ago.

    Foaled in New Zealand in 1926, Phar Lap was trained and raced in Australia — earning over £66,000 during the Great Depression.

    After he won the Melbourne Cup in 1930, the chestnut went on to win North America’s richest race, the Agua Caliente Handicap, in 1932. Phar Lap died in mysterious circumstances just a fortnight later — aged eight but scientists two years ago said he was poisoned.

    The horse’s hide is on display in the Melbourne Museum, but his heart is in a museum in Canberra and his skeleton in Wellington, New Zealand.

    And horseracing minister for the state of Victoria, Rob Hulls, wants Phar Lap’s remains reunited for the 2010 race — on 2 November.

    Mr Hulls has written to both Wellington’s Te Papa Museum and the National Museum of Australia in Canberra to outline his vision, saying: “Phar Lap is still synonymous with the Melbourne Cup and this would introduce his legend to a new generation of racing enthusiasts.”

    The champion chestnut was immortalised in the 1983 film: “Phar Lap: Heart of a Nation.”

    He conquered the Australian racing scene, winning 36 races from his 41 starts and captured the hearts of the public with his enormous stride, said to measure 27ft at the gallop.

    An attempt some years ago to have the heart brought to New Zealand for temporary display was thwarted over concerns about the increasingly delicate state of the preserved tissue.

    But Te Papa spokeswoman Jane Keig said the museum welcomed another attempt.

    It would be fantastic to be a part of this but it is dependent on whether the skeleton is fit for travel.”

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