Gai Waterhouse: Leading The Way in Buying The Best
Despite her advanced age, the First Lady Of Australian (horse: Racing is still an active participant in the purchase, training of her horses. At the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling sale, she was put paid to some of the youngsters as she bought, the most precocious horses in the catalogue. She was one of the top buyers at the sale.
The Hall of Famer broke down many barriers to become one of the most recognisable and most loved personalities in Australia. In an email interview from Waterhouse's iconic racing stables we speak to the virtuoso, about her plans for the 2019 edition of the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in January:
Q: Last year you purchased many high-quality horses at the Gold Coast Yearling Sale, where are they now? Are there any successes you would like to highlight?
A: We were thrilled with our Magic Millions of purchases and we have already had a number of quality two-year-old graduates make their debut at the races. Postcode (Vancouver/Never Forget ‘17: ran second in the Listed Breeders’ Plate in October, a race that is always a good guide for the A$2mil. Golden Slipper in the autumn. This will be his main target when he returns from his well-earned rest in the paddock. Belieber (Zoustar/Sense And Reason ‘17: also-ran in the Breeders’ Plate, he had a tough run that day and stuck on gamely. He has returned bigger and stronger than ever so we are targeting him at the A$2mil. Magic Millions 2YO Classic in January.
Q: This sale attracts a very large number of high-quality yearlings from across the country and sometimes even further out from New Zealand. How do you shortlist the horses you want to see from such a good catalogue?
A: Very early in the piece, I start looking. In October I head down to the stud farms in Melbourne. I travel Victoria, then head north to New South Wales looking at the yearlings in the Hunter Region and areas close to Sydney. I will also travel to Queensland this year to inspect their drafts.
Q: Obviously the top lots will get many visitors and command a high price. But there are many other really good lots. How does one identify and go after that second-tier cream?
A: By the time I arrive a Magic Millions I have seen the majority of the catalogue. Everything I see is documented in diary form – each yearling has a rating and Adrian and I use it to make our shortlist. Due to the fact that there is such a large number of entries in the sale not everyone gets to see each yearling, so many will shortlist on the pedigree page. Well, a horse cannot read its page so I often find quality types slipping through the cracks at inexpensive prices.
Q: What are your plans for the Gold Coast Yearling sales this year? Do you have an idea of how many horses you are likely to buy etc?
A: One likes to have a customer or owner in place when buying yearlings. This is something we will focus on in the months leading up to the sale.
Q: Which sales do you usually attend every year?
A: The sales I attend every year are the William Inglis Classic Sale, the William Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale, the William Inglis Easter Sale and Magic Millions.
Q: Could you tell us how did you get involved with the horse racing industry?
A: My father TJ Smith was a well-known Australasian horse trainer. I have always loved and admired him greatly and decided to follow in his footsteps.