Gai Waterhouse was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as a General Member for the sport of horse racing on October 11 2018. Widely acknowledged as the First Lady of Australian racing, she had trained, up to that point, more than 7000 winners, including more than 130 in Group 1 races, and won seven Sydney trainers premierships. She became only the second woman, and the first Australian woman, to train the winner of the nation’s most iconic race, the Melbourne Cup, which she achieved with Fiorente in 2013.
The daughter of legendary Sydney trainer Tommy J. Smith, the one-time actress worked with her father for 15 years before being granted an Australian Jockey Club licence in 1992 and trained her first Group 1 winner later that year – Te Akau Nick in the Metropolitan Handicap. She took over his Tulloch Lodge Stable after he became ill in 1994 and enjoyed immediate success, with quality colt Nothin’ Leica Dane winning the Victoria Derby and then finishing a gallant second in the Melbourne Cup, a race no three-year-old had won since Skipton in 1941. She 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.
In 2007 she was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, joining her father, who was an inaugural inductee with a record 282 Group 1s. The late Bart Cummings, with 236, was the only other trainer with more Group 1s when Waterhouse was inducted. In September 200 Waterhouse was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for “outstanding contribution to thoroughbred racing.
She is also a National Living Treasure, nominated by the National Trust of Australia.
In 2021 Gai was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the thoroughbred horse racing industry, particularly as a leading trainer, and as a role model for young women.