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Melbourne Cup 1930 - how Phar Lap won Australia's greatest race

Melbourne Cup 1930

How Phar Lap won Australia's greatest race, by Geoff Armstrong and Peter Thompson; Allen & Unwin. 359pp RRP $A29.95. ISBN 1-74114-750-6.

December 30, 2005

It has been more than 75 years since the mighty Phar Lap graced Australia's turf and thrilled racegoers with his amazing feats. Possibly his most famous victory was in the Melbourne Cup of 1930, when before the race he was shot at in what appears to be a gangster-style attempt on his life.

Melbourne Cup 1930, by the authors of Phar Lap, the definitive 2000 biography of the horse, explores the four days leading up to and including the race.

Nothing new there, you might say: his exploits have been discussed countless times already; but this account goes behind the news to explore the times and the people involved. As the authors say in their preface, myth becomes legend, and in much in the same way that they laid to rest several myths about Phar Lap's life in their earlier book, this new book explores the likely perpetrators of the attempt on the horse's life.

I won't spill the beans about that here; and whether you agree or not with the authors, in reading this you will be given more information than before on the suspects.

The backgrounds of all those involved in Phar Lap's 1930 Cup are looked at, from the big punters of the day, bookies, breeders and owners, and the various police officers and editors and journalists from the several sporting publications of the time. They've brought together all of the players from many sources, and woven it all together into a cohesive real-life tale.

The only thing missing is pictures of the players ... but there are probably few, if any, new images that have not been previously published.

This book rounds out the "facts and figures" volumes on the Melbourne Cup and its history, and is a must for a collector on the topics of Phar Lap, the Cup, and Australasian racing.



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