Legendary trainer Gai Waterhouse inducted into Hall of Fame
Gai Waterhouse's groundbreaking career in racing is set to be recognised with her induction as a general member into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame this Thursday.
Waterhouse joins her father Tommy Smith as a Hall of Fame member and in doing so, the pair make history as the first father-daughter pair to both receive the prestigious accolade.
Waterhouse becomes the fifth horse trainer in the 168-year history of the profession to be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, joining Bart Cummings, Etienne de Mestre, Tommy Smith and Colin Hayes.
General membership of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame was established to recognise those who have shown excellence and outstanding achievements in roles supportive to Australian sport, such as administration, coaching/training, media or science.
"It's a lifetime dream come true," said Waterhouse of her gong.
"It's very special to be recognised at this stage – even though I'm still training. And it means so much more to be in the Hall of Fame with Dad.
"If he was looking down he'd be extremely pleased, and he'd probably say it was well overdue. He'd be very happy and probably have wished that he and Mum were here to see it. But I feel they will both still be there in spirit."
Having trained more than 7,000 winners across more than two decades, Waterhouse's track achievements include 156 metropolitan wins in a season (equalling her father's record), 138 Group 1 wins and seven Sydney trainers' premierships.
In 2013 with her horse Fiorente, Waterhouse became only the second woman, and the first Australian woman, to train the winner of the nation's most iconic race, the Melbourne Cup.
Waterhouse, 64, struggled to get her start in training, after a disputed battle to obtain her licence from the Australian Jockey Club which ended up in the courts where Waterhouse eventually won and saw 'The Waterhouse Amendment' brought to the anti-discrimination act.
Finally granted a licence in 1992, Waterhouse enjoyed immediate success, training her first Group 1 winner later that year – Te Akau Nick in the Metropolitan Handicap.
She took over her father's Tulloch Lodge Stable after he became ill in 1994 and trained quality colt Nothin' Leica Dane to win the Victoria Derby before finishing a gallant second in the Melbourne Cup, a race no three-year-old had won since Skipton in 1941.
Waterhouse won the Sydney premiership in the 1996-97 season, with 10 Group 1 wins. In 2002-03, she won the first of three successive premierships, training 156 winners to equal her father's Sydney record.
She has won most of Australia's biggest races multiple times, earning several hundred million dollars for connections, but her crowning moment came in 2013 training the Melbourne Cup victor, Fiorente.
"It was one of my greatest moments," Waterhouse said.
"No one realises until you've actually won the Melbourne Cup that it is life changing.
"When people said that, I thought, 'I can't believe that', but it is life changing. It is the ultimate satisfaction and propels you to extraordinary prominence in the eyes of the average Australian – that doesn't exist with any other race."
Hall Of Fame selection committee chairman Rob de Castella said: "Gai is an individual who has changed the landscape of sport. Her success, profile and drive has stood out above all others."
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