The Melbourne Cup 1930
Phar Lap's incredible win at the Melbourne Cup in 1930 made him an Australian icon. One cable from successful punters East of Perth summed up the national feeling well: 'If you could only stand on your hind legs and talk, we’d make you PM of Australia.'
The Great Depression was causing hardship, unemployment was rife and people were desperate for a good news story. Phar Lap's winning streak and fighting spirit gave people hope and a sense of pride in Australia.
This silent newsreel footage shows Phar Lap's technique of hanging back in the pack and then coming from the outside. When the time is right he easily overtakes his rivals and wins by three full lengths. He looks like he's got an extra engine inside of him, and after his death it was discovered that his heart weighed 6.35 kg - one-and-a-half times bigger than that of an average thoroughbred.
Ridden by jockey Jimmy Pike, Phar Lap carried a 62 kg handicap for the race - almost seven kilograms more than his weight-for-age rating. Over 72,000 people watched the race at Flemington Racecourse.
In the week leading up to the Cup it was reported there was an attempted drive-by shooting targeting Phar Lap. To this day it's never been proved whether this was a real attempt or a hoax by journalists keen to poke fun at the Phar Lap hysteria that gripped the nation. Either way it added a lot of drama to the big race, adding to the myth of him being a great Aussie underdog that came out on top despite the odds stacked against him.