Big Red's skeleton reunited with hide

Champion racehorse Phar Lap’s skeleton and hide will be reunited during celebrations for the 150th running of the Melbourne Cup, but his heart will remain in Canberra.

New Zealand’s Te Papa Museum in Wellington – where the skeleton is housed – has agreed to lend it to the Melbourne Museum after conservators gave it the go ahead to be moved.


Melbourne Museum Manager Brett Dunlop said the loan from Te Papa will be a great way to begin celebrations for the institution’s 10th birthday in October.

Phar Lap’s skeleton will be on show from September until January 30, 2011.

“This historic reunion of Phar Lap’s hide and skeleton will be a fitting tribute to his important place in Victoria’s racing history,” Dunlop said.

“I’m sure this will make Melbourne Museum’s most popular exhibit an even greater attraction.”

Victorian Racing Minister Rob Hulls said it would be the first time Phar Lap’s skeleton would travel overseas since it arrived in New Zealand in 1933.

He renewed his calls for the National Museum of Australia in Canberra to loan the horse’s heart to the exhibition.

Conservators decided Phar Lap’s heart was too fragile to travel to Melbourne.

New Zealand’s racing minister John Carter said the collaboration would showcase to sporting fans the size of the racehorse giant.

“The Melbourne Cup is a race that stops both our nations and one of its greatest winners ever, Phar Lap, is significant to the racing history of both New Zealand and Australia,” he said.

Phar Lap was foaled in New Zealand and raced in Australia.

He was born in 1926 and died in America in 1932 from a sudden mystery illness that was suspected to be accidental arsenic poisoning.