26 Jun 2013

DNA testing of Phar Lap to find out what made him so good

5:36 pm on 26 June 2013

A piece of Phar Lap's tooth is being sent to Australia from Te Papa museum in Wellington so scientists can analyse his DNA and compare it to the likes of other champions like Black Caviar.

The 1930 Melbourne Cup winner died of a sudden and mysterious illness while racing in the United States in 1932, with the suspicion being he was poisoned.

Dr Natasha Hamilton of the University of Sydney says the DNA sequencing will help shed light on the genetic diversity of thoroughbreds around the world, past and present and should show just what makes thoroughbreds different to other breeds?"

She says it will also highlight how modern thoroughbreds have changed or how they have lasted the test of time.

The process used to obtain Phar Lap's DNA rules out its use for cloning, which requires a large amount of DNA.