They Shot Phar Lap Didn't They?
Phar Lap's assault on the 1930 Melbourne Cup generated unprecedented excitement across Australia. At the same time, it filled many bookmakers with dread as a victory for the favourite would cost them plenty. He'd have to be stopped, whatever the cost.For the newspapers, the twin stories of sporting greatness and seedy corruption were a sensational cocktail. Readers lapped it up, while for the poor punters, suffering during the Great Depression, a Phar Lap triumph was their best hope of turning one quid into two. They Shot Phar Lap, Didn't They? is the story of four days in November that became at the same time the most famous and infamous in Cup history.
It began with a gunman, like something out of a Chicago gangster movie, apparently trying to kill Phar Lap on a quiet suburban street. With his life in danger and those closest to him terrified, the champion was spirited away to a secret location, while one of the city's most celebrated detectives searched for the culprits. Meanwhile, the other horses, owners, trainers and jockeys were preparing for the biggest race of their lives.
Their many diverse stories and the memories they invoke of Cups gone by are an integral part of this unique tale. An hour before the jump, Phar Lap's whereabouts remained a mystery. Finally, he arrived at Flemington, to go almost immediately to the start as a huge crowd cheered him on.
The police had been told to put men down the back of the track, in case the gunman tried one last time, but they now believed that the original assassination attempt might not have been all that it seemed. Nothing it appears could stop Phar Lap now.Key points: new paperback edition of Melbourne Cup 1930, published in 2006, with new introduction and afterword focusing on the controversy over what killed Phar Lap; established authors with a solid reputation in the field; thrilling writing, making this not only a great read for horseracing and sporting fans, but also for lovers of true crime