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Phar Lap was a huge red nut, hence the nicknames Red Terror or Big Red, who started off as bit of a bush scrubber before coming good, winning three of our biggest races - the Melbourne Cup, the Cox Plate (twice) and the AJC Derby.
Phar Lap was a huge red nut, hence the nicknames Red Terror or Big Red, who started off as bit of a bush scrubber before coming good, winning three of our biggest races - the Melbourne Cup, the Cox Plate (twice) and the AJC Derby.

Phar Lap: A true Aussie legend. Even if he was a Kiwi

As we head towards Australia Day and remember this country's legends, our friends at Bundaberg Rum give you the chance to put forward your memories of our sporting greats. Hit us up in the comments field below and tell us your favourite Phar Lap story.

Meanwhile you can nominate your own local sporting legend and win prizes for yourself and them. More info here.

One of the great Australian traits is how we idolise horses for their feats in sport as much as we do humans. We have a horse race that stops a whole nation to prove it.

Phar Lap's hide on show in the Melbourne Museum
Phar Lap's hide on show in the Melbourne Museum

While most of us have forgotten the name we pulled out of the sweeps hat in the last Melbourne Cup, there is one horse all Australians know and remember, even though none of us were alive when he was around.

Phar Lap was a true Australian legend. OK, yes, he was a Kiwi horse with a Thai name - meaning 'lightning' or 'sky flash' or something. But let's reflect on some of the great Aussie traits about our most famous racehorse.

Phar Lap was a huge red nut, hence the nicknames Red Terror or Big Red, who started off as bit of a bush scrubber before coming good, winning three of our biggest races - the Melbourne Cup, the Cox Plate (twice) and the AJC Derby.

He made a successful comeback after being shot at while walking home from training with his almost as famous strapper Tommy Woodcock. That is legendary in itself.

Phar Lap with his trainer Tom Woodcock on a track outside San Francisco, Ca. on January 25, 1932.
Phar Lap with his trainer Tom Woodcock on a track outside San Francisco, Ca. on January 25, 1932.

And he also beat the world's best horses in a high stakes race in the US just before dying in mysterious circumstances - many say by poisoning.

It's almost been a century since our most famous animal passed on but he is still revered.

There is a certain mystique about him. Maybe it was just the way he rallied a nation during the dire times of the Great Depression. Or maybe just because he was so damn good.

Either way the big fella is still with us in some respects. His huge heart sits in the National Museum in Canberra and his hide remains on show to this day in the Melbourne Museum. And his skeleton is in New Zealand somewhere.

The skeleton of Phar Lap at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.
The skeleton of Phar Lap at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.

The big boy was even honoured in the movie Phar Lap, written by another Aussie legend, playwright David Williamson, back in 1983. 

So yep, Phar Lap is undeniably a real legend. Technically he is a Kiwi but in true Aussie spirit, we're claiming him as Australian just like pavlova and Russell Crowe. 

Make your own Aussie legends