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Australian Thoroughbred             

Brian Russell Bloodstock Media Service 67 Brecht Street, Muswellbrook, NSW 2333, Australia

Phone (02) 6543 3051, Fax (02) 6541 1033 Email  FEBRUARY 5   2017

A new chapter for the history of Phar Lap

KEN 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 Lap.

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 record time.

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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