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Gai Waterhouse is an Australian horse-racing trailblazer, widely regarded as the most successful female trainer in the world. Gai's diary of her life on and off the track since a catastrophic outbreak of equine influenza threatened racing in Australia three years ago is, in many ways, an autobiography of a high achiever named as a 'National Living Treasure' by the National Trust.
Her stories from the stables and early mornings at the track and afternoons at the races provide inside information about her horses. Her reports about her jockeys, stable staff and owners, combined with tales of her family, friends, travels, and likes and dislikes, make compelling reading.
Gai does not hold back – often praising, occasionally criticising – premier jockey Nash Rawiller, promising apprentice riders Daniel Ganderton and Blake Spriggs, and thoroughbred racing administrators. She talks of the horses who have provided Group 1 glory. She tells of the good times with family and friends at home and abroad.
Her stages include: racetracks from Randwick to Flemington to Ascot (England) to Aqueduct (New York) to St Moritz (Switzerland); studs from the Hunter Valley (NSW) to Makybe (near Geelong, Victoria) to Ireland; horse sales from the Gold Coast to Melbourne to Karaka (Auckland, New Zealand); theatres and restaurants around the world; and holiday destinations from beach resorts in Italy and ski slopes at Aspen, Colorado.
Waterhouse is the daughter of legendary Sydney trainer Tommy Smith, who dominated racing in NSW for nearly four decades until his death in 1998. The effusive Waterhouse began her working life as an actor and model, appearing in the leading television series, The Young Doctors in Australia and Doctor Who in England.
Eventually, Waterhouse was lured back to racing. She joined her father’s training operation as a stable manager, which she held for 15 years before being granted her trainer’s licence in 1992, after a long battle with officialdom. Waterhouse has won seven Sydney trainers’ premiership titles and is heading towards 100 Group 1 winners – only three other Australian trainers, including her father, have achieved that feat.
Waterhouse is married to bookmaker Robbie Waterhouse. She was inducted into Australian Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
Stephen Howell has been a racing editor at The Slattery Media Group since 2008. For 40 years before that he was a newspaper journalist, working in different sections on different papers (The Examiner and The Mercury in Tasmania, The Daily Mirror in Sydney, and The Sun, The Herald, The Sunday Age and The Age in Melbourne), but always returned to sport, both as a writer and editor.
He has covered football, tennis, athletics and cycling, but has concentrated basketball, and on his first sporting love, racing. For 20 years he covered the men’s and women’s national basketball leagues and followed Australia’s international campaigns, reporting at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, the 1998 men’s world championships in Athens, and the women’s world championship in Adelaide and Sydney in 1994. From the mid-1990s until after the 2008 Melbourne Cup carnival, he wrote racing features for The Sunday Age and The Age, and for several years edited The Age’s tabloid liftout formguide.