Phar Lap's name means 'lightning' in Thai. How a horse in Australia got a Thai name is a story in itself. A young man called Aubrey Ping, then a student in medicine at the University of Sydney, regularly watched horses in trackwork at Randwick and would often 'chew the fat' with riders and trainers.
Ping's father was a Zhuang speaker who migrated to Australia in the 19th century from southern China. Young Aubrey learnt some Zhuang from his father, and the Zhuang language shares with Thai the name for lightning. The use of the letters 'ph', instead of a simple 'f', created a seven letter name that was split into two words: Phar Lap. This was essential to Harry Telford because it replicated the dominant pattern set by Melbourne Cup winners.
Research provided by Michael Lennie.