Based on the real events that surrounded the life and career of Australia's greatest-ever thoroughbred racehorse, Phar Lap begins with his mysterious and controversial death in the United States. The narrative then flashes back to the day that Phar Lap, despite his lack of pedigree, is purchased on impulse by trainer Harry Telford. Although Phar Lap loses his first races, Telford's faith in the animal is unshakable. Suddenly, the horse becomes a winner, thanks to the love and diligence of stableboy Tommy Woodcock. American promoter Dave Davis arranges for Phar Lap to be entered in several top races, where his long-shot status results in heavy losses for the professional gamblers. Just after winning an important race in Mexico, Phar Lap collapses and dies. While the story never states emphatically that the champion racehorse was 'murdered' by gambling interests, it is certainly implied.