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Tommy Woodcock

Aaron Treve "Tommy" Woodcock (1905 – 1985) was the Australian handler of racehorse, Phar Lap. He was born at Uralgurra, near Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1905. Woodcock served an apprenticeship as a jockey under Barney Quinn, who was based at Randwick, in Sydney. He won several starts, and worked as a jockey until 1927, when he was 22 years old. However as his size and weight increased he gave up jockeying in favour of riding work and strapping for trainers.

It was in this way that he met Harry Telford and the great horse Phar Lap. In 1929, Telford employed Woodcock full-time as Phar Lap's strapper. From then on, Tommy and Phar Lap were virtually inseparable. Before big races, Woodcock would sleep outside Phar Lap's stable, and it was said that Phar Lap refused food from anyone but Tommy.

Following on from Phar Lap's defeat in the 1932 Melbourne Cup the great horse was shipped to America, where he competed in and won the Agua Caliente Handicap. Shortly afterwards, on 5 April 1932, Phar Lap died suddenly. Ever the devoted strapper, Woodcock was with him in his final moments.

Woodcock continued to work with horses until his retirement in 1983. In his later years he achieved fame through training Reckless, a stayer who ran second in the 1977 Melbourne Cup.

Tommy Woodcock died at Yarrawonga on 27 April 1985, aged 79.


  • Tommy had a cameo appearance in the film Phar Lap, playing an unnamed trainer. The role of Phar Lap's strapper in the film was played by Tom Burlinson.


'Tommy Woodcock 1905 - 1985', J. Wositzky, 1986, Greenhouse Publications Pty Ltd, Richmond VIC

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