The Strapper: The remarkable story finally told

28 August 2013

Phar Lap and his famous strapper Tommy Woodcock will be celebrated in a remarkable Australian first exhibition at Albury's LibraryMuseum.


Strapper is a unique ‘living museum’ experience that features actual recordings of Tommy Woodcock and his stories about working with Phar Lap. The archival recordings will be used to create a unique performance where music and poetry combine to tell the story of Tommy Woodcock and his relationship with Phar Lap. It will be capped off with a performance by Yarrawonga horse handler Wayne Hinchliffe and his horse Perkins. Hinchliffe grew up with Woodcock and learned his horsemanship from one of Australia’s great trainers.


The exhibition also features memorabilia and artefacts dedicated to Australia’s most famous racehorse and his dedicated handler. The exhibition officially launches the Write Around the Murray festival and includes:

  • Rare photographs of Phar Lap’s race days and his iconic victories
  • Phar Lap’s leather travelling boots and blanket
  • The hat worn by Tommy Woodcock when training Phar Lap in the 1920s and 30s
  • Jockey’s weights used during Phar Lap’s race days
  • Memorabilia from the ship the transported Phar Lap from Australia to America for his triumphant tour
  • Saddle worn by Reckless, the horse also trained by Woodcock which won the Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane Cups and ran second in the Melbourne Cup in 1977

“They say that Phar Lap wouldn’t take food from anyone but Tommy, and before big races Tommy would sleep outside Phar Lap’s stable,” Write Around the Murray Festival Coordinator Ann-maree Ellis said. “It was quite a remarkable relationship and this is going to be a very poignant exhibition.”


Woodcock worked with Phar Lap during his peak in the 1920s and 30s preparing him for major race events. Woodcock was posthumously inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2012 recognising his distinguished career working with Australian racehorses.


Tommy was a close friend of the Hinchliffe family and spent his final years on their Yarrawonga farm before passing away there in 1985. Wayne Hinchliffe has since gone on to become a famous horse handler himself with the travelling Stockyard Show and will be performing with his horse Perkins as part of this special exhibition at WAM.


The exhibition is based on items bequeathed to the Hinchliffe family by Woodcock and features some rare and never-before-seen Phar Lap photographs and memorabilia.


Former Bushwhacker’s Band member Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky, armed with an archive of recordings and a banjo,  truly brings the story of Tommy Woodcock and Phar Lap to life.


The exhibition is now showing.