Stacks Image 78
The Owner
Rodney Rouse Dangar was born on 1 October 1873 at Baroona, the family homestead located in Whittingham, a tiny hamlet located a few miles outside of Singleton in the rich Hunter region. He came from a long line of distinguished pastoralists that had settled the area, beginning with his grandfather, the noted Henry Dangar. Tall, well educated and finely spoken, Rodney Dangar was wealthy, gentlemanly and English to the core. He was also a keen racing man. When Peter Pan was born at Baroona in 1929, Dangar was 56 years old. Through the Great Depression, the blond champion gave his owner the best few years of his life. Dangar went to every race, and was one of the few owners to climb out of bed before dawn to watch Peter Pan work in the mornings. Married to arts patron Elsie Winifred McDonald in 1914, Dangar died in Sydney on 24 October 1950. He had served as an AJC committeeman from 1937 until after the Second World War.
(Photo courtesy of the Ritchie family)

Stacks Image 84
The Trainer
Like most great trainers, Frank McGrath was a jockey before he turned his hand to training. At the age of 19, he rode in the 1885 Caulfield Cup when it incurred the worst pile-up in Australia's racing history. Harassed by headaches after the incident, McGrath deserted riding and took up stables in the southern end of famous Doncaster Avenue in Kensington, behind Randwick Racecourse. He was a sensation almost immediately, training a plethora of champions over 40 years, including Prince Foote, Abundance, Amounis, Peter Pan and Beau Vite. Of Peter Pan, the old trainer forever maintained that only Carbine was greater (McGrath had ridden Carbine in track work sessions when he was younger). Retiring in 1946, the trainer was certainly the Bart Cummings of his era. He died at home on 28 October 1947 at the grand age of 81. He was inducted into the Australian Hall Of Fame in 2003, the same year as Peter Pan.

Stacks Image 87
The Strapper
Very little is known about the man that looked after Peter Pan, strapper George Phillips. Before Peter Pan's emergence in 1932, Phillips tended to another McGrath champion of the 1930s era - Amounis. Softly spoken and hard working, Phillips had a knack with top line horses. He was especially patient with the often irascible and arrogant Peter Pan. It is expected that Phillips was in his mid-fifties during these years. The ageing strapper went everywhere with Peter Pan, including almost all of his spelling trips to Doonside. After the champion's retirement in April 1936, Phillips left McGrath's yard, setting up on his own as a small-time trainer at Victoria Park. He met with little success, and next to nothing is known about him after the Peter Pan years.
(Photo courtesy of Les Haigh)
Stacks Image 90
The Jockeys
Between May 1932 and April 1936, Peter Pan had eight different jockeys. The most regular of his pilots was James (Jim) Edward Pike. Pike had ridden a winner in virtually every major stakes race in Sydney and Melbourne, had piloted most of the early 1900's great champions, including Phar Lap. Through 1935/36, Pike knew retirement was looming and waited for Peter Pan to finish his career. The pair retired on the same day, 11 April 1936. Peter Pan also carried the great Darby Munro to his most famous victory – the 1934 Melbourne Cup. Munro was a vigorous, boisterous character both in and out of the saddle, and for four rides aboard Peter Pan, he claimed three famous victories that spring. As well as these two, Peter Pan was also ridden by Jim Munro, Billy Duncan, Andy Knox, Ted Bartle, Darcy Webb and Jock Reynolds. Darby Munro, Pike and Duncan were all inducted into the racing Hall Of Fame.
Stacks Image 93
Peter Pan ran into some formidable opposition during his racing career. The years 1932-1936 were among the strongest in racing's 'Golden Era', with horses like the two-time Cox Plate winner and champion miler Chatham, the Queensland hero Lough Neagh and the Melbourne Cup-Doncaster winner Hall Mark. But none drove Peter Pan to as many mad finishes as did Rogilla, the ugly chestnut from Newcastle that drove the Sydney champ to more close finishes than any other horse. Trained by Les Haigh, Rogilla was rangy, awkwardly assembled and had famously flaky feet, was a fussy eater and one of the most accident-prone horses the turf had ever seen. Nevertheless, he is the only horse in Australian history to win a Caulfield Cup (1932), Sydney Cup (1933) and Cox Plate (1933), and his regular pilot Darby Munro declared long after his retirement that he was one of the best Australia had ever seen. Rogilla retired in March 1936, only a fortnight before Peter Pan, with 70 race starts under his belt for 24 wins, five of which were dead-heats in the days before the 'magic eye', or photo-finish camera.
(Photo courtesy of Les Haigh)