Crime Scene Investigation

designed by Elizabeth Graham








You are a member of a team employed  by the Australian Racing Board to investigate the mysterious death of Australia's most famous race horse ,Phar Lap during the 1930's.. Your job is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the life and death of the horse, individuals and possible motives for a crime, and reach a conclusion


Your team will consist of a social historian, journalist, detective and forensic scientist. Each member of the team will  research background information, in response to the focus questions below. The team must then synthesize their findings in an oral report to the Racing Board ( class). Evidence that may be used to support your findings could include anecdotal, eye witness accounts, photographs, diaries and newspaper stories as well as forensic tests. Remember to take into account possible bias in evidence. In your report to the racing board you must mention the reliability of sources that you have used.






Each expert must use the following focus questions as a guide for their research. Experts will be given 3 periods in the lab for research and 2 further periods for collation and final conclusion


Social Historian

1. What economic and social conditions of the 1920's and 30's explain the popularity of Phar Lap?

2 Why was Phar Lap as a young colt an unlikely hero?

3. Why has the story of Phar Lap become a legend? Has the circumstances of his death contributed to the legend?

4. History is often viewed through the film lens. How was Phar Lap's death portrayed in the Australian film?

5. Why do you think the film promoters use the tag " Hero to a nation" and what does this suggest about the relationship between film and history?



Research the headlines and articles of the day and explain how Phar Lap was viewed?

Outline the racing success that Phar Lap had? Why was it so unusual?



Which individuals were involved in Phar Laps success?

Explain their involvement and whether each had a possible motive for the crime? Consider not only Australian but overseas investors who had interests in Phar Lap's  continued success or failure.


Forensic Scientist

Explain the tests  done on Phar Lap after his death and the tests done recently?

What was unusual about Phar Lap's heart? How much did it weigh?                                 

 How has the information derived from these tests changed over time?