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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Australian racing legends and best friends

Tommy Woodcock devoted his life to horses, and his unique connection and friendship with flighty racing thoroughbreds generated racecourse success and celebrity status.

Tommy Woodcock remains one of Australia’s most beloved horsemen, rising to fame as strapper of the legendary Phar Lap. In 1930 he protected ‘Big Red’ during an attempted shooting, and when the mighty horse died two years later in California – the victim of a suspected mob poisoning – it was in the arms of a heartbroken Woodcock. Through his career as a jockey, strapper and trainer, Tommy worked with many horses, including Reckless, whose distinguished career included wins in the Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide Cups of 1977. Photographer Bruce Postle remarked of the famous moment captured in this portrait: ‘Without a word of a lie, he looked at Reckless and Reckless looked at him, and this big stallion dropped down and put his head on his chest.’

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery building at night
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The National Portrait Gallery building at night

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© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency