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Title Image: Leaving Australia
Phar Lap's Death

Back in Australia the news began to filter through at about 10.30 am on 6 April 1932. As the reports hardened from unconfirmed to confirmed, Australians reeled in shock.

 Newspaper headlines.

After the win at Agua Caliente, Phar Lap was taken back up to San Fransisco. The idea was to rest him and consider the many offers being made for feature events by the big race clubs across the country. David Davis also commenced talks with Hollywood studio executives who were interested in Phar Lap as a film subject.

There were some concerns in the Australian camp as to whether Phar Lap had gone a little 'flat' after the big race. Be that as it may, nothing could have prepared them for what happened on the morning of Tuesday 5 April.

Woodcock awoke to find Phar Lap was in distress. His efforts to walk the champion failed to calm him down. Over the next few hours his condition only worsened. The vet was called but could do nothing. By then, Phar Lap could no longer stand. Around midday, with his head in Woodcock's arms, Phar Lap died.

The main thing felt by Australians was, 'How could this happen?' Suspicions that Phar Lap had been poisoned surfaced quickly, and the fact that two autopsies failed to clearly identify the cause of death added to these suspicions. The feeling was that Phar Lap had flown too high and that 'the Americans' had sought to cut him down.

Was Phar Lap poisoned?

What did kill Phar Lap?

Investigation of the ranch in San Fransisco showed that some trees had recently been sprayed with a lead-arsenate insecticide.

link to full story

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