Acrylic and impasto medium on flat canvas board.
20″ × 16″.
Phar Lap (1926–1932) was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse whose achievements captured the public’s imagination during the early years of the Great Depression. Foaled in New Zealand, he was trained and raced in Australia. Phar Lap dominated Australian racing during a distinguished career, winning a Melbourne Cup, two Cox Plates and 19 other weight for age races. He then won the Agua Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico in track-record time in his final race. After a sudden and mysterious illness, Phar Lap died in 1932 (now confirmed by tests to have been cyanide that killed him). At the time, he was the third highest stakes-winner in the world. He won a remarkable 37 races from 51 starts. He was so heavily weighted after his continual success in Australia that there was really not much choice but to take him overseas to race.
His mounted hide is displayed at the Melbourne Museum, his skeleton at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and his heart at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.
Gift for my boss’ (racehorse trainer Robert Price) son, Luke Price. Luke recently had his house built and I wanted to paint something for his house. I know he loves Phar Lap as I do also.
Luke Price was a very successful jockey in Sydney as an apprentice before he suffered a terrible fall that broke his back. He recovered and attempted a come back but problems with his weight saw him return to his Father’s stables where he is the stable foreman and also trains racehorses with his father Robert.
I love this family, I love working for them and with them and I’ve never loved horses more than the horses my boss trains. I’ve learned so much with the care and patience of this racing family and they too have learned a lot from me as well in communicating and connecting with the horses on a deeper level and the results have been fantastic. It’s a pleasure to work for this family. And it’s a pleasure and an honour to give this gift to Luke to display in his house.
And as a great compliment, I showed Luke the painting before I added the finishing details to ask him if he wanted any changes because the silks on the jockey are suppose to be bright red. The problem was that when I made them bright red they overtook the painting and I wanted the focus on Phar Lap. He loved it as it was and was not concerned that I subdued the red silks. When he saw the painting his eyes lit up so big in excitement that my heart jumped for joy….there’s no feeling like that! :o)