Say what? You're probably thinking. What the heck is a Phar Lap? Well, Phar Lap is not a "what" but a "who" and if you know me at all then you have already realized that Phar Lap is some sort of animal. Way beyond just "some sort" of animal if you ask me. Phar Lap was one of the greatest racehorses that ever lived. Ever. Not just my opinion either. Lots of people think so. I'm not going to extol the virtues of Phar Lap in this post, I just had to mention an article that came out today about him. This is massively interesting to me since I'm a huge fan - and because Phar Lap died in 1932. How is he making the news today, 76 years later? Well, he died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 5 but recently scientists figured out what killed him. Fascinating, I know! And since I know you're on the edge of your seats now I'll fill you in. Back then the speculation was poisoning, as he was quite the threat on the racetrack, but it could not be proven. Now it has been. Tests on a few strands of his mane (his stuffed hide is on display in a museum in Melbourne Australia) show that he died of a massive arsenic poisoning. However, it is possible that it was accidental. I'm not convinced since it seems to me, based on what I've read, that it was rather an acute onset and I would expect him to be sick for a while if it was an accumulation effect from the arsenic in his ointments etc but it seems that whether it was intentional or accidental will remain a mystery.
There's a number of books about Phar Lap as well as a movie (which always makes me cry) and you can read about him here and here.