Synopses & Reviews
When he died, they said there would never be another Phar Lap. Yet in just a few months there came a horse so good, a colt so suddenly brilliant, that everyone was asking: was this the next Phar Lap? Born in 1929, Peter Pan debuted on Australian racetracks just six weeks after Phar Lap's death in 1932. Within six months, he had won five of his first seven starts, including the world's greatest two-mile handicapthe Melbourne Cup. The Sydney Sportsman called him a "Super Horse." The Sporting Globe wrote: "Another Phar Lap takes the stage." He could win from seven furlongs to two miles, across any track, against the best racehorses Australia had ever seen. And in 1934, when Peter Pan won his second Melbourne Cup, only the second horse in history to do so, his glory should have been sealed. But somehow, over the years, Australia forgot him. This is the story of the horse that came next, the brilliant, consistent Peter Pan whose hapless timing in 1932 meant he would never be remembered. Casting off the shadow of Phar Lap, it is the tale of the wealthy gentleman owner, the Hall of Fame trainer, and the famous jockeys who guided Peter Pan to 23 rapturous victories between 1932 and 1936. It is a tale of fortune during the Great Depression, of the coming of a champion when people least expected one, and an attempt to jog Australia's memory and restore the standing of our other great racing hero.
About the Author
It was easy to fall in love with Phar Lap, but Jessica Owers
was more interested in the horse that came after him - an athletic blonde thoroughbred called Peter Pan. It led to her first book. "Initially it was Peter's beauty that got me. His blonde hair made him a very unusual thoroughbred. But the more I looked into him the more I couldn't believe it. Australia had forgotten this horse, and he'd been a giant of the turf." Writing the life of a 1930s racehorse wasn't something Jessica planned on. After a combined degree in environmental science and journalism at the University of Stirling, Scotland, she returned to Sydney where she worked as a riding instructor, then a writer for Breeding&Racing
magazines. Since freelancing, her words and photographs have appeared in Turf Monthly
, Racing Life
, In Breeding and The Thoroughbred
, and various books and publications across the racing industry. She has met Vintage Crop, Choisir, and enjoyed a private audience with Exceed And Excel. But the horses she would most like to meet are dead. "If you could drop me back in Sydney in 1932, I'd walk straight to Randwick."
Jessica was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1980, and was an Australian by 1984. Her infatuation with horses began before she can remember and, at the age of seven, she told her mother she wanted to be a "book writer". At that stage, she never dreamed her two passions were related. Speaking about Peter Pan, she says it was a privilege to write about him. "The turf history of Australia is a magical genre. I've lived in a permanent state of 1930s during the writing of After Phar Lap. There was such beauty and colour attached to the story, and I fell head over heels for Peter Pan." Peter Pan's life is the latest to hit Jessica's bookshelf. The biographies of Secretariat, Citation, Ruffian, Seasbiscuit, Man O'War, Sham, Northern Dancer, Cigar, Mill Reef, Eclipse, Red Rum, Phar Lap, Carbine and Takeover Target are already there, to name a few. "American authors have the thoroughbred bio down to an art," she says. "I've been reading their work for years. Who can forget the impact that Laura Hillenbrand left with Seabiscuit? She proved that a horse book really could capture entire nations."