Training with Gai

In just over a decade at the helm of mighty Tulloch Lodge, Gai Waterhouse has established a place among the nation's all-time leading trainers, combining tradition and innovation to reach the pinnacle of her profession.

After a 15-year apprenticeship with her father, the legendary TJ Smith, and a prolonged battle with officialdom, Gai was granted her licence to train thoroughbreds in January 1992, ultimately taking the reins as Randwick's leading trainer.

Focus, vision and unflagging energy have enabled Gai to capture eighty-seven Group 1 winners, more than 290 coveted black type trophies, three NSW Premierships and four Sydney Trainer's Premierships in a remarkably short period of time.

Gai Waterhouse was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in November 2007 for her many many achievements in the field of horse training and racing.

She was awarded the Sarah Kennedy Award for Contribution to Racing, was a Winner of the Westpac Business Owner Award, and named the state's top businesswoman as the Telstra NSW Businesswoman of the Year 2000. Gai's track record extends beyond the racecourse to the sale ring where she's proven herself to be an astute yearling judge.

Gai is a phenomenon, an Australian icon, and her achievements are a testimony to what vision, planning, hard work, energy and dedication can produce. In this clip she tells us about what her job entails and how apprentices, like Daniel, can follow in her footsteps.

TAFE NSW offers a Diploma in Thoroughbred Training. This course is for people who work or want to work in the horse racing industry. A thoroughbred trainer is a person who runs a racing establishment including the management of staff, finances and equipment as well as training horses. The occupation requires the trainer to operate in a commercial business environment and involves the care, training and preparation for racing of a number of horses for outside owners for the purpose of competing in industry-regulated events. The course provides vocational education and training in practical skills relevant to the care, handling, husbandry, training and preparation for racing of thoroughbred horses, and the underpinning knowledge required to apply those skills to a variety of workplace situations in the thoroughbred sector of the racing industry. You will acquire a range of skills in managing highly strung, expensive animals that can easily injure themselves or their handlers and understand the responsibility and duty of care involved in doing so. You will learn to work as an independently employed trainer who can organise your own work as well as lead others, analyse situations and plan for and carry out tasks of complex and non-routine functions. You will be prepared to solve unpredictable problems, demonstrate broad knowledge in a variety of contexts and develop strategic initiatives. The course provides opportunities for you to interpret information and assess the performance and form of horses. This requires an understanding of anatomy, physiology and health of the horse applied in the context of a competitive racing environment. Students usually work as trainers responsible for the care, maintenance and racing performance of horses and can apply for a licence to train horses for industry-regulated competition from Racing NSW. Graduates would normally operate a large training establishment with several to many staff and operate locally, interstate and/or internationally. They often have extensive demands from owners, media and the public and are required to act for owners in advising on the purchase of livestock. To do this they develop knowledge of pedigree, conformation and animal physiology as well as the rules relating to partnerships and syndication.

VJ Rodney Meier