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Racing history buffs prepare for big spring in print and on screen

July 28, 2011

Anyone with any interest in racing history has a lot to look forward to this spring.

I’m the sort of guy who will go into a book shop and scan the shelves for any racing literature – sometimes in the sport section, sometimes in the animal section, many times it is nowhere to be found.

I’m also the sort of guy who watches racing movies over and over again.

I remember when I saw Phar Lap the first time (which was, granted, about twenty five years after its release), I couldn’t stop watching it. Although, I must admit I cringed during some of the typically 1980’s era scenes, when the exceptionally cheesy music blasted over the top of some semi-important moment.

The director of Phar Lap, Simon Wincer, won international acclaim for his movie Free Willy (yes, the one where the whale jumps over the rocks) but he is making a return to his Australian roots with a film about another Melbourne Cup winner.

It is the heavily anticipated The Cup, the story of Damien Oliver and his win on Media Puzzle in the 2002 Cup.

It is only nine years since he won, and amazingly, this project was slated for release in 2007.

But a number of problems, mainly funding, continually hampered progress.

The movie has the makings of a blockbuster – American author Eric O’Keefe, who wrote the book The Cup and assisted with the screenplay, says it is the greatest story he’s ever heard.

I know some people have seen it already, and have given it the big thumbs up.

That’s good enough for me.

With Australia in spring carnival mode when it is released in mid-October, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes one of the bigger Australian movies released in recent times.

But for fans of Australian racing history, the spring only gets better when a book about one of the most underrated Melbourne Cup winners.

Peter Pan: The Forgotten Story of Phar Lap’s Successor is the story of dual Melbourne Cup winner Peter Pan, written by young journalist Jessica Owers.

I must admit I’m a bit of a fan of Owers now.

She has been nothing but friendly on Twitter and her clear love and passion for racing comes through in her writing.

As someone who is hoping to be a racing writer one day, she is a true inspiration!

But back to the book, it has the potential to be one of the best racing reads in recent years.

According to Owers, Peter Pan’s place in the annals of Australian racing history is largely overlooked due to the fact that he emerged so soon after the death of Phar Lap.

I cannot wait to read what is shaping up as a great historical tome.

Click here to go to the book’s website.

I’ll be getting her book as soon as it is released, with the intention of providing a review on here.

I’m positive, though, it will be a very good review – with such an intriguing story and a good writer, how could it go wrong?

Bring on October and November!

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