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The Diary of Phar Lap

The Diary of Phar Lap

by Robert Baker; Exisle Publishing. Hardcover, 151pp. RRP $25. ISBN 978 0908 98818-1.

November 23, 2007

If only they could talk. For thousands of years horse people the world over have wished that their beloved four-legged beasties could hold a conversation with them. But imagine - if Phar Lap could have talked, what would he have to say about it all?

The release of The Diary of Phar Lap was timed for the 75th anniversary of the great horse's death, in 1932. Author Robert Baker puts the pen firmly in Phar Lap's hooves and lets him tell it like it is. Or, at least, how it might have been.

Baker is one of the few souls with a close connection to Phar Lap, his father Jack, as an apprentice, rode Phar Lap to his first race win in 1929. Baker grew up with the Phar Lap legend and admits to having a fascination with the horse ever since.

Many books have been written about "Bobby", often touching on his playfulness and intelligence, and the rapport he had with his strapper Tommy Woodcock. But this new book puts the reader in the horse's shoes, as much as possible, and speculates on how Phar Lap might have seen life. For example: "I remember New Zealand fondly, and the spartan surroundings of the Telford set-up compared with where I was foaled and raised as a yearling make me feel I've come down in the world."

There's definitely a sense of humour in the writing - and to cope with being trained by Harry Telford a horse would need that, as well as a thick skin.

The diary begins on August 1, 1929, and goes through to April 5, 1932, followed by a postscript about Phar Lap's demise.



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