A new chapter for the history of Phar Lap
BRIDGE, the man who foaled down and reared the magnificent racemare
and matriarch Denise’s Joy at his Castlereagh Stud near Denman in
the Hunter Valley for T.J. Smith, but now breeding in the Launceston
district in Tasmania, has supplied information that adds a new
chapter to the history of the iconic giant of Australian racing Phar
It relates to Phar Lap’s sire Night Raid, a 1918 foaled nicely
bred son Radium (by Bend’Or) and Sentiment, a mare by the Carbine
English Derby winner Spearmint, who was low grade on the racecourses
of England and Australia. His best effort in six starts in England
was a third in a nursery selling plate, while 29 starts in Australia
resulted in win in a maiden in Sydney.
He had been purchased in England by Ken Bridge’s maternal
grandfather Joseph Browne (1878-1965), a leading Sydney bookmaker,
as a potential Melbourne Cup horse, but, as bookmakers at the time
were not allowed to own racehorses, was imported under Peter Keith,
a Sydney trainer and apparently a prominent bloodstock agent. He
imported at least twenty horses in the first quarter of last century
and Night Raid ran in his ownership and out of his stables.
When Night Raid, a horse who by the way Ken Bridge’s mother had the
pleasure of exercising on the beach a couple of times, was five, he
was sold to A.P. ‘Paddy’ Wade, a well known figure in racing and
breeding, and spent the 1923 season poorly patronised at his
Borambola Park Stud near Wagga Wagga NSW. In 1924 he was shipped out
to New Zealand, becoming a sensation when he provided two Melbourne
Cup winners from his first two crops in that country, Nightmarch
(bay, foaled 1925) and Phar Lap (chestnut,1926).
Nightmarch was not far behind Phar Lap as a racehorse, winning 24
races (one of them a dead-heat) and finishing second in18. Principal
wins were in the Melbourne Cup (1929 by three lengths), the Cox
Plate, Epsom Handicap, Randwick Plate, Autumn Stakes – twice,
Cumberland Stakes and Rawson Stakes in Australia and the New Zealand
Cup, Derby, Canterbury Cup, Dunedin Cup, Jas Hazlett Gold Cup and
two renewals of the Awapuni Gold Cup in New Zealand.
He went on to be handy sire in New Zealand, including supplying four
stakes winners from New Zealand Oaks winner Praise.
Nightmarch only contested the Melbourne Cup once,1929, but year
younger gelded Phar Lap raced in it in three successive years,1929
(1-1 favourite, fought his jockey, Bobbie Lewis, fiercely and taken
to the front 1200m out, third to Nightmarch and Paquito),1930 (8-11
fav, 62.5 kgs, Jim Pike, by 3.0 lens - cruising) and 1931 (3.0 fav,
68.0 kg, Jim Pike, eighth).
Phar Lap ran 51 times for 37 wins, all but one of them in Australia
and also including the Cox Plate – twice, AJC Derby St Leger, Craven
Plate - thrice, Cumberland Stakes, Chipping Norton Stakes, Randwick
Plate – twice, Chelmsford Stakes, Victoria Derby, St Leger, CB
Fisher Plate, Futurity Stakes, St George Stakes, Underwood Stakes,
SAJC King’s Cup and Elder Stakes and finally, on an illfated trip to
America, the Agua Caliente Handicap in California in 2000m track
Phar Lap, a horse who at Flemington in 1930 won the Cup on the
Tuesday and stakes on the Thursday and the Saturday, and Nightmarch
were two of a small number of good horses supplied by Night Raid in
a long career at stud.
The others included Nightly (in New Zealand won the Derby and
Canterbury Cup and in Australia the Randwick Plate, CB Fisher Plate,
Moonee Valley Cup), Blixten (Rosehill Guineas), Nightbeam (a
relation of Phar Lap, he beat Flight in winning the Metropolitan at
Randwick in1944 and also won Auckland Champagne Stakes). Equal
favourites Nightly and Sir Simper (by Grand Knight) were the last
two home in the 1934 Melbourne Cup won on a bog track by Peter Pan.
The legend of Phar Lap aside, the greatest of legacy of Night Raid
was through descendants of Phar Lap’s racing nonentities sisters
Fortune’s Wheel (1925), Raphis (1934) and Nea Lap (producer in
America) and three-quarter sister Enticing (1937, by Nightmarch).
Their most notable descendants have included Sunline (like Phar Lap
in Hall of Fame, three times Australian champion, 48 starts, 32
wins, Cox Plate twice), Research (Horse of the Year, 9 wins, AJC
Derby Oaks, VRC Oaks), Planet Kingdom 6 wins, second AJC Derby,
prominent sire), Fairy Walk (won Golden Slipper, 3rd Blue Diamond),
Cheyne Walk (9 wins, AJC Australasian Champion Stakes, Queensland
Derby, Doomben Cup), Monte Carlo (13 wins, Victoria Derby, AJC
Derby, Metropolitan, LKS Mckinnon, 2nd Melbourne Cup), Spyglass (won
Auckland Cup, Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes), Iron Horse (11 wins,
won and placed Epsom Handicap, third Caulfield Cup), Blazing Saddles
(8 wins, Blue Diamond Stakes, third Golden Slipper, sire),
Waitangirua (10 wins, Doomben Cup, Underwood Stakes), Fountaincourt
(16 wins, won and 3rd Auckland Cup, 3rd Sydney Cup) and Cole Diesel
(11 wins, Caulfield Cup, VATC Elders Mile). There are many more.
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