A Kiwi couple who spent almost $40,000 on a set of champion racehorse Phar Lap's shoes say they would have spent more to bring them home.

Jo and Brendan Lindsay bought the four aluminium plates at auction in Melbourne last weekend. They paid $32,000 plus buyer's premium of 20 per cent, easily surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $18,800-$25,000.

But the value of having them back in New Zealand far outweighed the cost, said Mr Lindsay, the director of a plastic storage container company.

"I wanted to make sure the shoes came back to New Zealand so all New Zealanders can enjoy them."


He plans to give them to Te Papa in Wellington to display alongside the gelding's skeleton. When that isn't on show, they will be kept at the couple's home in Karaka, South Auckland.

Going into the auction, the couple decided they wouldn't be coming home without the shoes. They faced "fierce competition" from an Australian bidder but would have been prepared to "go a bit higher".

"We're so lucky that we can afford to do it," said Mr Lindsay.

The shoes come in a box with the message 'Memo from Dick Davis', the horse's owner, taped inside the lid.

Another item in the auction, an album containing black and white photos of the finishes of all of Phar Lap's 36 victories in Australia, was valued at between $125,400 and $163,100. It didn't sell but there has been a lot of interest since, said auctioneer Leonard Joel.

Kiwi-bred Phar Lap was bought by American businessman David (Dick) Davis and trained and raced in Australia by Sydneysider Harry Telford.

He won the 1930 Melbourne Cup and died suddenly in the US in 1932. His hide is displayed at the Melbourne Museum and his heart at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.