A song for Phar Lap

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
23 November 2010
Comments
Comments (4)

At Discovery Centres we don't just receive enquiries that seek information from the museum. We also have intriguing information passed onto us by members of the public that helps with our research and further fills out the background stories surrounding our collections.

This is one such gem, a poem about Phar Lap entitled Phar Lap comes home, which we received from a lovely lady in Bendigo whose brother sent it to her over 50 years ago. She was hoping it would be of interest to us and that we might be able to use it:

Where the thoroughbred immortals
Graze in pastures evergreen,
And the steeds of song and story
Feel the touch of hands unseen.
There’s a whining [whinny] in the distance
and a pawing at the gate
As the big stout hearted Phar Lap
Joins the legion of the great.

Where the horses famed are ranging
Over acres rich and fine
And the coats of turfdom’s monarchs
In the brilliant sunlight shine
There’s a snorting in the shadows
And a pricking up of ears
Another racing stalwart
On the borderline appears.

In the thoroughbred Valhalla
Where the bravest hearted go
And there aren’t any seasons
When the blue grass doesn’t grow
Where’s there no fierce grind of training
And no further stakes to win
There’s a stirring in the paddock
As another canters in.

In the paradise of horse flesh
Where the gamest of the game
Frolic through an endless summer
Done with glory and with fame
Where no barriers spring upwards
And no turmoil fills the air
Carbine, Redleap and Brovo
Turn and see the “Red Flash” there.

Up beyond the eyes of mortals
Where there is no muddy track
Where there are no gruelling stretch runs
And no added weight to pack
Where the kings of far flung ovals
Play and scamper as they will
There’s a neighing as the great hearted
Phar Lap gallops on the hill.

Where there are no culls or “cast offs”
And no spineless “also rans”
Where the horses have a record
Treasured by the racing fans
There’s a pawing and a neighing
Where the lion hearted roam
And a whining [whinnying] of welcome
Phar Lap “big Red” has come home.

'The Record Breaker, Phar Lap, Greatest of all Race Horses', New Century Press, 1932, by Jack Spinty
'The Record Breaker, Phar Lap, Greatest of all Race Horses', New Century Press, 1932, by Jack Spinty
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Many poems were written about Big Red after his death, including a number in the Museum Victoria Phar Lap Collection. But a quick internet search revealed only a couple examples of this particular poem online, which have slightly different details. One person commented on the Cyberhorse Forum that it was published in the New York Sun after Phar Lap's death but, even after searching historic Australian newspapers online via Trove, I still didn't come up with any further information. As more resources are digitised we might find out more about this and perhaps even who wrote it. Can anyone out there shed any further light on the poem?

Comments (4)

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Shirley Hutchesson 29 June, 2012 12:25
I heard a song on radio when I was younger, I thought the lyrics were sung by Kevin Shegog but I cannot find it. It goes like this - #he needed no persuasion, nor a whip layed to his side, as he thundered down the straight, 20 feet in every stride. I'll never forget it, as the lyrics were so true of Phar lap.
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Discovery Centre 30 November, 2011 14:22
Hi TB. Thanks for the further information and alternative version. We've taken this transcription directly from our enquirer's handwritten version that her brother sent her.  I did notice there were a few differences with other versions and I guessed that it might have been adapted for a more Australian audience who might not know the horses to which it referred.
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TB 30 November, 2011 14:02
I know this was posted last year, but I've only just found it online. I read this poem in a book of horse stories when I was a child, and it was definitely published in the Sun after Phar Lap's death. The second and fourth verses here are incorrect. They should mention the names of several famous American racehorses. The correct verses are : Where the thoroughbreds immortal
 Graze in pastures evergreen, 
 And the steeds of song and story 
Feel the touch of hands unseen, 
There’s a whinny in the distance 
And a pawing at the gate 
As the big stout-hearted Phar Lap 
Joins the Legion of the Great. 

Where the great Domino is ranging
 Over acres rich and fine,
 And the coats of Sweep and Colin 
In the brilliant sunlight shine
 There’s a snorting in the shadows
 And a pricking up of ears,
 As another racing stalwart
 On the borderline appears. 

In the thoroughbred Valhalla, 
Where the bravest-hearted go, 
And there aren’t any seasons 
When the bluegrass doesn’t grow 
Where’s there no fierce grind of training, 
And no further stakes to win, 
There’s a stirring in the paddock 
As another canters in. 

In the Paradise of Horseflesh, 
Where the gamest of the game 
Frolic through an endless summer, 
Done with glory and with fame, 
Where no barriers spring upward, 
And no turmoil fills the air, 
Sysonby, Regret and Fair Play
 Turn and greet the “Red Flash” there. 

Up beyond the eyes of mortals 
Where there’s ne’er a muddy track, 
Where there are no gruelling stretch- runs 
And no added weight to pack 
Where the kings of far-flung ovals 
Play and Scamper as they will, 
There’s a neighing as the giant 
Phar Lap gallops o’er the hill. 

Where there are no “culls” or “cast-offs” 
And no quitting “also rans” Where all horses have a record 
Treasured by the racing fans,
 There’s a pawing and a neighing
 Where the lion-hearted roam,
 And a whinnying of welcome
 Phar Lap-“Big Red”- has come home.
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Louise 14 January, 2011 14:28
I read this poem in another book and the author had it as written by Annon.
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