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Phar Lap was probably the greatest racehorse in Australian history. A horse that led Australia through difficult times during the Depression. As Australia grinds to its annual halt for the Melbourne Cup, it is only fitting to remember what he gave to those people around the Nation all those many years ago. 

This horse, this amazing animal, united Australia in dark days and united Australians through hope and a bet that strength of character would triumph.

After all, Phar Lap loved to win

I have never been a fan of horse racing. The whole idea of weighing a horse down and then cheering on the opponents carrying no weight or less weight never seemed quite fair to me.  

I only ever attended one Melbourne Cup event and have only ever placed one bet on a horse. Its name was Battle Heights and I grabbed my winnings and have never bet again. 

The idea that a clear winner is loaded down with lead weights seems unfair to me.

Run over two miles (3200 metres), the Melbourne Cup is one of the world’s few major handicap horse races.

Every horse entered in the race is ‘handicapped’ by being given different weights depending on its age, sex and previous form. Phar Lap was entered into the Melbourne Cup three times – in 1929, 1930 and 1931 – each time carrying a handicap which reflected his status as favourite.

The horse was so outstanding that at his third Melbourne Cup attempt in 1931, he was handicapped with the heaviest weight ever set for the race – 10 stone 10 pounds (just over 68 kilograms).

But Phar Lap was more than a Racehorse. Born in 1926, this New Zealand-bred racehorse would go on to capture the hearts of millions, becoming one of the most celebrated and iconic horses of all time. With a fiery spirit, a striking red coat, and a heart as big as his stride, Phar Lap's journey from humble beginnings to international stardom is nothing short of legendary.

Phar Lap, whose name means "lightning" in Thai, ( I am told - I could be wrong of course )  was foaled in Timaru, New Zealand. He was a gangly colt with a chestnut coat, marked by a white blaze on his face. Despite his unimpressive appearance, he was destined for greatness. He was purchased by American expatriate David J. Davis, who soon transferred him to the stable of trainer Harry Telford in Australia.

Under Telford's guidance, Phar Lap's talent began to shine. Despite his awkward build and peculiar running style, which was described as a "pounding gait," he displayed an uncanny ability to accelerate in the final stretch of a race, earning him the nickname "The Red Terror." The combination of his stamina, heart, and speed made him a formidable force on the racetrack.

Phar Lap ran for every digger, every Australian having a hard time; every down and out unemployed Aussie. One horse carried the burden and the hopes of a Nation on its back and, as it ran, as it won, as it crossed the finish line, the People felt hope.

During the 1930s, the world was gripped by economic turmoil, and the Great Depression hit Australia and other countries hard. In the midst of this challenging period, Phar Lap's remarkable success on the racetrack captured the public's imagination and provided a source of inspiration and distraction.

Phar Lap's victories in major races, including the Melbourne Cup and other significant events, helped lift the spirits of the Australian people. He became a symbol of resilience, determination, and hope during a time when many were struggling with economic hardship and uncertainty. The horse's underdog story and his ability to triumph against the odds resonated with the public, and he was celebrated as a national hero.

Phar Lap's racing success and the stories of his victories were widely covered in newspapers and media of the time, giving people something positive to focus on during a difficult period in history. His legacy endures as a testament to the power of sport and the ability of a remarkable horse to provide hope and inspiration to a nation in need.

Phar Lap was no show pony.He was a champion. A Leader.

He ran every race expecting to win. And win that champion did. Phar Lap won 37 races from 51 starts, including the 1930 Melbourne Cup. 

 

However, Phar Lap's true test came when he crossed the oceans to compete on the international stage. In 1932, he was shipped to North America to take on the best horses in the world. His performances in the United States were nothing short of remarkable. Despite facing unfamiliar competition and racing on tracks very different from those in Australia, he secured wins in races like the Agua Caliente Handicap, the richest race in the world at the time.

Sadly, Phar Lap's international success was cut short. On April 5, 1932, just days after his triumphant victory in the Agua Caliente Handicap, he fell ill and died under mysterious circumstances. The cause of his death was initially believed to be colic, but some speculated foul play due to his overwhelming success in the United States. His heart, preserved in a jar, weighed a staggering 14 pounds, significantly larger than that of an average horse, reaffirming his legendary status.

Phar Lap's legacy lives on in Australian history. He remains an enduring symbol of determination, courage, and the triumph of an underdog. His story transcends borders and generations, reminding us that greatness can emerge from the most unexpected places and that the spirit of a champion knows no boundaries.

Today, Phar Lap's memory is preserved in museums, films, and the hearts of horse racing enthusiasts worldwide. The Red Terror will forever be remembered as a horse who defied the odds, leaving an indelible mark on the world of horse racing and the collective imagination of those who believe in the power of dreams and the beauty of the racetrack.

 

All around the world right now, we are suffering from the threat of global war. We are suffering from hard times, economic stress and cultural turmoil. 

And, what we are witnessing in America right now is a horse race where the favourite is so loaded with lead weights that it would have to have enormous strength and determination to carry on, let alone win.

Champions are champions because they are champions. 

President Trump is a Phar Lap. .He has a big heart and a grand determination. 

The only way he can be killed is to poison him. Literally or metaphorically, you decide. 

And aren't they trying to do that? 

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