Phar Lap was foaled in Timaru, New Zealand, late in the season on 4 October 1926.
Sydney trainer Harry Telford was a keen student of thoroughbred bloodlines and spent countless hours poring over pedigree charts. He believed he had found a future champion in a colt that was shortly due to sell in New Zealand. Sired by Night Raid and foaled out of Entreaty, the colt was listed for the Trentham Sales in 1927.
Telford was in a financial mess. He talked an American businessman living in Sydney, David J. Davis, into buying the horse. Harry's brother, Hugh, a resident of New Zealand, was telegraphed to bid up to 190 guineas.
Lot Number 41 sold for 160 guineas. Back in Sydney, Telford thought the purchase price was great news. That was until he clapped eyes on the 'bargain' being crated from ship to shore in Sydney Harbour. The big, gangly beast looked anything but a champion. Warts covered its face and there was an awkwardness to it that did not inspire confidence.
Real problems came when Davis saw his purchase. He was furious and wanted nothing to do with it. Telford and Davis struck a deal: if Telford covered the cost of training the horse, he could keep two-thirds of the winnings-if there were any.
Telford was certain that the horse's breeding would make him a champion. He had the horse gelded so it might concentrate on one thing only: running fast.