Gai Waterhouse was born into a life of horse racing. Her father, TJ Smith, was one of the country’s best loved and most successful trainers, and since taking the reins at Tulloch Lodge 26 years ago, his only child Gai has gone on to emulate his success with more than 138 Group 1 Winners under her belt. When not trackside, training champion thoroughbreds, working with racing manager Adrian Bott, or spending time with her children and grandchildren, Gai retires to her Highlands hideaway with husband Robbie for a few days grace before heading back into the fray. Escape SH catches up with Gai as the Australian calendar of spring racing events arrives.
My name is Gai Waterhouse
My life in five words is… Fulfilling, happy, challenging, family orientated, exciting.
I spend my time between Sydney and the Southern Highlands because… We have a small homestead here and our family loves to share it with us.
I love the Highlands because… we adore the lifestyle, the people we have met. It has changed our life dramatically for the better. We entertain more in the Highlands than in Sydney. It is a great escape.
I have been coming to the Highlands for… 4 years.
My favourite thing to do in the Southern Highlands is… enjoy the farm with family and friends.
Followers on Instagram see… images of horses and family.
When it comes to horses, this is one truth I know… They need lots of attention.
I have been training horses for… all my life.
You will never see me at the racetrack without… my lipstick.
In a sentence, my horse training philosophy is… attention to detail.
My top tip for those looking to become a successful racehorse trainer is… go and work with the best.
The most precious piece of advice Dad gave me was… when you go to the sales, look for a champion, don’t just buy a horse.
Qualities that have helped make me a top horse trainer are… I’m very focused, a secure marriage, love and passion for what I do.
The qualities a horse needs to become a champion include… athleticism, natural ability and the will to win.
When in the Highlands I always take visitors to… the Shaggy Cow, the Station Coffee House and Toshi’s Japanese Restaurant in Mittagong, and Eccetera Trattoria Pizzeria for great pizza in Bowral (read Escape’s review page 56).
My favourite place in the Highlands is… Lydie du Bray Antiques, Braemar.
I never leave the Highlands without… forgetting something.
In terms of racehorses, the Highlands is… a leading breeding group of mostly boutique studs. A great climate for horses’ development.
My sweetest tasting career victory came… when I won the Melbourne Cup in 2013 with Fiorente.
The lessons I hope my children learn from me are… to be good parents (which they are) and to work hard in their chosen careers (which they do).
If I hadn’t spent a lifetime with horses, I might have… Not sure. Haven’t really thought about it.
The biggest win I still hope to achieve is… to win at Ascot with the girls only syndicate Global Glamour. And I’d love to win the Breeders’ Cup in America.
One day I hope people will remember me… with fond memories.