When I was in early high school the Phar Lap movie was put up on the big screen at Caulfield Racecourse in the middle of the summer months and people could come along in the late of the evening to watch the movie about this wonder horse. I loved that mum took me along.
Since then I’ve seen the movie a few more times, always amongst ‘horsy’ crowds. The movie pays attribute mainly to Phar Lap’s strapper, Tommy Woodcock and although I don’t doubt the immense effect this young man had on Big Red, I think this book by Michael Wilkinson also gives the trainer Harry Telford credit where it’s due.
The movie attributes Woodcock to finding the key to get ‘Bobby’ to run and portrays Telford as an otherwise failed trainer. The book recognises a hard working trainer who’s methods worked well for the large chestnut gelding as well as many others in his later acquired stable of horses.
Although specifically about a horse that captured the hearts of so many, Wilkinson does a brilliant job of opening the reader’s eye to the struggles of all in the Depression of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. He also captures the hope that hangs on a ‘freak’ of a horse and ‘the’ football club.
The book has been thoroughly researched with Wilkinson having used interviews, official documents, records, newspaper and magazine articles as well as assistance from many who were part of this amazing horse’s career.
It is written in segments almost, making the book an easy read that interchanges between characters and the news of that day.
Author: Michael Wilkinson
Fiction – based on fact.
In my library? Definitely. Where would any horse library be without the story of a horse that captured the hearts of so many in the midst of an economic drought? A great horse and a great read.
“You never saw a good horse grow where a good man didn’t grow.”