A pair of horseshoes worn by legendary Australian racehorse Phar Lap has been sold for $24,400 ($19,479 USD), including fees, at an auction in Melbourne.
The steel alloy racing plates, one worn on the front hoof, the other the hind, originally belonged to the horse’s handler Tommy Woodcock.
They are mounted in a frame including a picture of Woodcock holding the front shoe, along with a cassette tape of him from 1982 talking about the shoes, as well as a letter of authenticity from master farrier Dick Bell.
A spokesman from auction house Mossgreen, Max Williamson, said it was a good result for the buyer, a collector of sporting memorabilia, who wanted to remain anonymous.
“I was on the phone with the winning bidder so he was very excited to buy them,” Williamson says. “He said, ‘Oh, I’d better not tell my wife.’ He was surprised because I think he honestly thought someone would outbid him.”
Williamson says Phar Lap memorabilia is very rare.
“We’ve been selling sport now for 20 years and in all that time we’ve had his saddle, we’ve had one single horse shoe before, we’ve had his bridle, but that’s all,” he says.
“It’s only about every 5 years we get something really decent of Phar Lap’s for auction.”
Phar Lap lived from 1926-32 and provided some respite and joy to a nation struggling through the Great Depression.
The horse won 37 races from 51 starts, including two Cox Plates and the 1930 Melbourne Cup.
In its final race, Phar Lap won the Agua Caliente Handicap in track-record time at Tijuana, Mexico, which was the richest prize in North American racing at the time.
Phar Lap died under mysterious circumstances in the United States shortly after.