Phar Lap - The Story of Big Red

:: Auction News ......

75th Anniversary Celebrations of Phar Lap's Melbourne Cup win

Everything about Phar Lap is of mythical proportions - the biggest heart, huge frame, circular hooves, turf and dirt track records, intense
life - and untimely death. While many legends are not true, Phar Lap's is. Big Red's deeds on the turf during the Depression years was really a balm for the battler's needs, he did carry those enormous weights to win, he was trained and ridden intensely and did beat the cream of American racing on his first dirt track start in record time.

Phar Lap's success story from 1930 came at a time when Australians were measuring up against the mother country, with Don Bradman setting batting records in England, Kingsford-Smith setting records in dare-devil flying from London to Sydney and back. Jim Pike's winning ride on Phar Lap in November capped off a year demanding sporting brilliance and luck.

Phar Lap's win at Agua Caliente in 1932 came a few weeks after the dramatics of the Bodyline Tests. The sudden death of Phar Lap showed how quickly success can be cruelly snatched away, leaving all involved bare and vulnerable, wondering, disbelieving. Racewatchers were relieved to see Phar Lap's "Lucky" saddle take jockey Gene Woolf into racing history on Seabiscuit and Man of War.

Phar Lap was really everything that has been written about him, as close to a mythical beast that any racing horse could be. For Australians, Phar Lap's win against all odds in the 1930 Melbourne Cup was truly inspirational, the efforts to win, were ours. Those efforts are worth remembering every Cup day.

Tom Thompson

Phar Lap bronze souvenir 1931
a bronze free-standing image of Phar Lap with jockey up, with name etched into "turf", approximately 12 cm wide and 11 cm high. Most
$200- $300

A Tin of Carbine c1895 a large metal tin, 37 x 47 x 10 cm deep, with an image of Carbine (16 cm high) embossed with the following details: 'Australian Veterinary Supply Co./ CARBINE/ REMEDIES/ HorseSheep and Cattle', with locking mechanism, and sections sections complete within. Carbine won the Melbourne Cup in 1890, and was Phar Lap's great-great-grandfather. Rare.
$500- $600

A Framed Poster of Phar Lap 1931 a coloured chromolith by Stuart Reid of Phar Lap, with Jim Pike up, wearing the partnership colours of red and green, 30 x 34 cm, in light frame.
$100- $150

AJC Racebook for the Cumberland Stakes 1930 an original stapled AJC racebook, 8.3 cm wide by 13.1 cm long, published by Ross Brothers, Sydney for the Autumn Meeting, All-Aged Stakes Day 23rd April 1930. A little discolouration to the cover, and within from
contemporary ink annotations, otherwise good condition. Contains details of The Cumberland Stakes, noting Phar Lap winning with Elliott up in just under 2 minutes 59 seconds. Importantly it notes an earlier race, The All-Aged Stakes which Pike won on Amounis over Nightmarch, with Phar Lap being a late scratching. Rare.
$600- $800

Phar Lap's racing saddle used by Jim Pike 1930, a racing saddle, with full strapping and nickle-plated stirrups, as used by Jim Pike on Phar
Lap over the seasons 1929-1931, including the 1930 Melbourne Cup. As Phar Lap's success pushed ever heavier handicaps, Pike's original light racing saddle for Phar Lap was dispensed with. In good condition, and not used from 1931, this was Jim Pike's 'Lucky' providing more than half of his 27 winning rides with Australia's greatest horse. Provenance: Mrs Olga Pike.  

Tattersall's Club Racebook 1930 A Tattersall's Club Racebook, 8.1 x 13.4 cm, produced by Ross Brothers for the September 13 1930 race meeting, bound in blue leather with gold blocking for the Tattersall's club member, T. Hannan. Booklet adrift from stapled spine, but in very good condition otherwise, this includes full details with contemporary annotations in pencil for Phar Lap's first placing in the Chelsford Stakes, beating Nightmarch. Rare.
$1200- $1500

A racing saddle used by Jim Pike on Phar Lap, a light racing saddle owned by Jim Pike, and first used by him to win on Phar Lap in 1929. In
distressed condition, having suffered much in the weather, and little use from mid-1930, this has been overhauled by saddler Neil Begg at
Graham Begg Stables, Randwick. Provenance: Mrs Olga Pike.  

Phar Lap framed with original 1930 Racebook a black and white photo of Phar Lap showing Elliott up, wearing Telford's colours, in a training run at Agua Caliente, 28cm x 33cm, framed with an original St.Georges Stakes day racebook dated 15th. feb. 1930, in which Phar Lap ran third. Neatly mounted framed size 56cm x 46cm. Good.
$1500- $2000

Jim Pike's riding boots, a pair of two-tone leather riding boots, as used by Jim Pike throughout his Phar Lap career, winning 27 times on Big
Red. In good condition. Provenance: Mrs Olga Pike.  


Phar Lap with Jim Pike up a colour image of Phar Lap with Jim Pike taken from the famous round biscuit tin, image size approximately 38cm x 27cm, frame in dark wood with gold insert under non-reflective glass. Scarce.
$300- $400

Jim Pike's racing bridle for Phar Lap, a racing bridle as used by jockey Jim Pike on Phar Lap in the 1930 Melbourne Cup, and more than half of his 27 winners with Big Red. About 190 cm long, with two 10 cm metal-ringed bit, the actual strapped reins are rather race-worn, as it
was Pike's custom to ride high and tight to Phar Lap's mane. Provenance: Mrs Olga Pike.  

Phar Lap 1931 a framed colour contemporary print published in New Zealand showing a study of Phar Lap with famous white racing bridle standing in the paddock, labelled underneath, image approx: 40cm x 31cm , mounted and framed. Very scarce.
$600- $800

Jim Pike's skull cap. The great jockey's skull cap, as used throughout career, 21 x 15 cm wide, by 10 cm deep. Not much protection under his red cap, but worn throughout his time with Big Red. Pike was born in 1892 and died in 1969, when this item and others were passed to Mrs Olga Pike.  

Phar Lap Glass Trophy 1932 an amber glass trophy of Phar Lap's head, 13.2 cm high on an oval base 8.2 cm x 11.7 cm, with raised letters 'PHAR LAP' and '1928-1932' on one side: '37 wins from 51 starts' on the other. In fine condition. One of only eight known to have been crafted by Pop Weisell for Australian Glassworks in 1932, this one in perfect condition and a gift to the bookmaker Joe Taylor. Provenance: Joe Taylor, then by descent.

Two Phar Lap Bookends in Bronze a bronze head of Phar Lap, 11 cm high on a base 9 x 12 cm, modelled from the amber glass trophy, and split to create bookends. Produced in small numbers in 1932. Scarce.
$800- $1000

Phar Lap's racing bridle as used by Jim Pike, a racing bridle as used on Phar Lap 1929-31, approx 194 cm long, being 47 cm to strapped 6.5 cm ringed-metal bit, with a further 142 cm light reins. With Phar Lap requiring heavier weights, it was Pike's custom to use the heavier reins
on the powerful horse, and thus this one has seen less wear and tear. Provenance: Mrs Olga Pike.  

A Racing bit as used by Jim Pike on Phar Lap, this spare racing bit, as used Phar Lap 1929-30, being 10 cm diameter metal ringed bit is exactly the same size and style as the on the bridle used for Pike's Melbourne Cup ride.  

A racing bit as raced on Phar Lap by Jim Pike 1931, This spare racing bit, as used by Pike on Phar Lap in 1931, has silvered metal Ds (27 cm
end to end). Provenance: Mrs Olga Pike.  

Jim Pike's whip as raced with Phar Lap, Pike's whip, as raced with Phar Lap. 70 cm long, with dulled brown plastic "cap" with leather stringed handle, it has a barely used leather strap, as Pike preference was to "tap" and not to "whip" the great horse. Provenance: Mrs Olga Pike.  

Four Photographs of Phar Lap's Last Race, 1932 four original sepia photographs, each approximately 16.4 x 12 cm, pasted down on card, each numbered and dated in the plate "3.20.32 A.C. Handicap - 50,000 Added" showing scenes from Phar Lap's last race. The first shows the start of the race (Phar Lap is number 9), the second shows "Ist time past stand", the third "Heading for Home", and the last shows the winning shot, but this one is badly disintegrating, unlike the first three (4). Provenance: Mrs Bill Eilliot.
$1500- $2000

A Phar Lap racing plate 28-32 with written provenance, a front foot metal racing plate, 12.5 cm across, with a silver curved metal slip
added and engraved thus: 'PHAR LAP 1928-1932"; together with an envelope postmarked Mexico City 1944, from Lady Wilford to Mr G Tracy of Wellington, New Zealand. In the accompanying letter dated November 28 1944, Mrs Wilford states that "the shoe is most certainly one of Phar Laps, was given to my husband by the blacksmith who shod him before he left for America... it was quite unlike the average horseshoe being almost round. I think the blacksmith was Mr Howell but am not sure." Also enclosed is a small card with Lady Wilford's name printed to one side (at British Embassy, Mexico City) and to reverse, her handwritten annotation: "This shoe belonged to the race horse Phar Lap & was presented to the late Sir Thomas Wilford by the blacksmith who shod him." Sir Thomas Wilford was the MP for Lower Hutt (1899-1929) before becoming New Zealand's High Commissioner in London. He coined the term "the Cradle of Champions' for the Petone area of New Zealand that has produced so many notable sportsmen and women. Extremely rare with only four racing plates known, this is the only one with written provenance.



A racing blouse, in Telford's colours of deep red with black and white armbands, as race-worn by Jim Pike and Bill Elliot in 1929 and 1930.
With some fraying to the silk sections of both lower sleeves, evidence of mud and some discolouration to the white banding, a few minor holds, but no tears to the body of the blouse. Following investigations this is believed to be the only silks raced by all jockeys on Phar Lap, prior to the creation of the slimline blouse as raced on May 17 1930, and considering the financial situation for Telford, it would appear that one set was all he could afford. Race-worn by Pike when first on Phar Lap in the AJC Derby (5.10.29), the Victoria Derby (2.11.29)  and the VRC St. Leger Stakes (1.3.30), it was handed on to jockey Bill Elliot who then won the Governor's Plate (6.3.30), the King's Plate (8.3.30) , the Cumberland Stakes (23.4.30) the AJC Plate (26.4.30) and the Elder Stakes (10.5.30). The silks were raced for thirteen First placings, and several minor placings, and in our opinion these were also race-worn for Phar Lap's 3rd placing in the 1929 Melbourne and Caulfield Cups. Provenance: Mrs Bill Elliot.
$50,000 - $70,000


Update on Auction at Cromwells :-


Lot 74, the racing blouse worn by Jim Pike & Billy Elliot when riding Phar Lap in 1929 and 1930 was sold by Cromwell’s for $67,700 (including buyer’s premium) on Saturday October 22.

Lot 63, Pike’s saddle as raced on Phar Lap in the 1930 Melbourne Cup sold for $43,600.

Other prices realised for Jim Pike’s racing gear, as raced with Phar Lap

Lot 65 – Jim Pike’s boots - $10,600

Lot 66 – Pike’s racing bridle - $4,490

Lot 67 – Pike’s skullcap - $5,200

Lot 69 – a second racing bridle - $2200

Lot 70 & 71 – two Phar Lap racing bits - $1500 each

Lot 72 – Pike’s whip - $11,800

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