Phar Lap was a legendary racehorse and an adored animal hero for a generation of New Zealanders (where he was born and brought up) and Australians (where he mostly raced).
After Phar Lap’s death on 6 April 1932, his owners, Mr D J Davis and Mr H R Telford, presented his hide and heart to Australia and his skeleton to New Zealand.
You can see his skeleton on display in Te Papa on Level 4 and get an insight into his amazing racing career in this Tales from Te Papa.
We don’t often get requests to loan Phar Lap to other institutions but late last week we received a request from the Minster of Racing in Victoria, Australia. He wants to ‘reunite’ Phar Lap’s hide in Melbourne Museum with his skeleton from Te Papa and his heart from the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. The reason for requesting the loan is to promote and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first running of the Melbourne Cup.
The National Museum of Australia has declined to loan the heart, it’s just to fragile to travel even to Melbourne.
We now have our conservators assessing the skeleton – it’s been on almost continous display since the 1930s! The condition report will help us to decide whether we can agree to or decline the Minister’s request.