The auctioneer’s own catalogue from the 1928 New Zealand Thoroughbred Yearling sales that saw Lot 41 – an unnamed chestnut colt later to be called Phar Lap – sold to Australian connections will go under the hammer next month.
The unique piece of Phar Lap memorabilia, including notes made by the auctioneer about Phar Lap, will be offered on November 2 during a sale being run by auction house Mossgreen, in Armadale, Victoria.
New Zealand-born Phar Lap became the stuff of legend, forging a remarkable track record, including a gutsy win in the 1930 Melbourne Cup. He was shipped to the US, where he won North America’s richest race in his first start, before dying in mysterious circumstances only a fortnight later.
Mossgreen says Phar Lap memorabilia is rare, and most of it is associated in some way with his dedicated strapper, Tommy Woodcock.
However, the catalogue predates that relationship. It not only heralds Phar Lap’s introduction to the world, but records in the auctioneer’s own handwriting the name of the purchaser and details of the sale.
It also confirms that Lot 41, the unnamed chestnut colt, was born in New Zealand and purchased for 160 guineas, roughly equivalent to $A12,000 today.
The catalogue is expected to fetch $A20,000 to $A30,000, but the Mossgreen specialist responsible for its sale suggests that it is almost impossible to value.
“It’s hard to think of a more important item of horse racing memorabilia than the sale catalogue that announced the arrival of Phar Lap, albeit a future champion with no name,” says Max Williamson, the firm’s head of sporting memorabilia.
“While we’re not aware of the existence of any other catalogues from the sale at the Trentham Racecourse on 24 January 1928, we have the only official auctioneer’s catalogue that was consigned to us by his family.
“This is ‘ground zero’ of the Phar Lap legacy and everything that followed. His life on the race tracks of Australia and the United States, his death and the controversy that remained unanswered for a generation, began with this catalogue.”
The catalogue lists the lots offered at the annual Thoroughbred Yearling Sales at Trentham Racecourse, Wellington, in January 1928.
Mossgreen offers online bidding. Visit www.mossgreen.com.au for more details.