Peter Pan Champion Australian Racehorse
Peter Pan Melbourne Cup Winner & Hall Of Famer
Peter Pan Peter Pan: The world-wide economic crisis known as the Great Depression that began in 1929 affected almost everyone, and the people of Australia certainly did not escape unscathed.
The time was ripe for anything to provide relief from the hardships, and for Australian punters, and the general public as well, some relief came in the form of a chestnut thoroughbred stallion with the whimsical name of Peter Pan.
Peter Pan Foaled In Sydney
Foaled at Sydney’s Baroona Stud in the same year, 1929, that defined the start of the Depression, Peter Pan was sired by British Pantheon, a horse that won a few times in Australia, including two Randwick Plates.
His dam was Alwina. Expectations for Peter Pan were quite high. His connections were fond of comparing him to Phar Lap. As with many heroes in every endeavor, drama and adversity played a prominent role in Peter Pan’s rise to greatness.
In 1932, running as a three-year-old, he got off to an auspicious beginning by winning both the VRC Derby and the L.K.S. Mackinnon Stakes, putting him in solid form tor that year’s Melbourne Cup.
This is where the drama and adversity combined for one of the most legendary occurrences, not just in the history of Australian horse racing, but of racing anywhere, and sporting endeavors of any kind for that matter. During that race, Peter Pan clipped the heels of the horse immediately in front of him and crashed to the turf, an event that normally spells, at the very least, disaster for that race, and as is often the case for horses, total destruction.
In this phenomenal instance, however, another horse, coincidentally from the same stable as Peter Pan, bumped in to Peter Pan and actually helped him to his feet. He proceeded to run as one possessed, won by a neck, and left thousands of stunned spectators wondering if what they had just witnessed had in reality taken place.
Peter Pan was uninjured as well as victorious. Adversity surfaced once again in 1933 in the form of a virus that ravaged stables in and around Sydney. He missed the entire season, and only trainer Frank McGrath’s personal care was responsible for a recovery in time for the following season.
Peter Pan Wins Melbourne Cup
The 1934 Melbourne Cup fell once again to Peter Pan, with Darby Munro aboard, where the two combined to overcome a poor post position and a heavy course. Peter Pan was burdened for that race with close to the tope weight of 63 kg., and wagerers that were so skeptical of his ability to again run at his earlier level that he went off at 14-1 against.
This series of events inevitable conjure speculation that Peter Pan might have easily won the Cup he was forced to miss, giving him three and placing him ahead of the only other to have ever raised the Cup twice, Archer. Amazingly, another viral infection afflicted Peter Pan in 1935 and McGrath did not have equal success in ministering to his champion this time. He never regained top form and even though he did gain entry to the 1935 Melbourne Cup, he was again heavily burdened and could do no better than 13 th .
The time for retirement was clearly evident for Peter Pan. Returning to his Baroona Stud birthplace, he returned to the supervision of Rodney Dangar.
He produced stakes winners in the form of Grampian, Peter and Precept. Peter came a close second in the 1944 Melbourne Cup and Precept won twice at Group 1 level, but it would appear that Dangar’s unwillingness to share Peter Pan’s DNA with any other than his own mares prevented the prospect of anything close to his racing prowess being produced.
The final act in the drama came in 1941, when after a brief six year stint as a stud, he broke his leg and had to be put down. The lost seasons from the viral infections lead to much idle speculation over what Peter Pan could have accomplished had he been able to run at form.
Hall Of Fame
Even a conservative position would seem to indicate that he could have easily doubled his Group 1 output. Peter Pan is of course ensconced in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2003 and many racing fans would support the idea that he deserved to be an inaugural inductee.
Whilst he never had the opportunity to go head-to-head with Phar Lap, many felt, his trainer included, that Peter Pan would have beaten Phar Lap handily at assorted distances, and Peter Pan’s abilities in the middle distances, including six wins from eight starts at a mile, add credibility to that claim