A DREAM COME TRUE - GAI WATERHOUSE by Jessica Healy

The surrounding crowd screams and chants as one faithful hoof of a stallion crosses the finishing post. A standing ovation erupts like a volcano within the crowd that day. On November 5th, 2013, the life of one brave women and racing history changed forever.

That morning, I stepped into the trainer’s room, a woman in a man’s world. But I didn’t care. I have a right to be there. The eyes of a few of my colleagues attacked me with an intent stare. I answered their eyes with one quick swoop of the room with my own, and a threating quirk of my eyebrows. The men looked away as if venom was just shot into their eyes. I turned away to go find Fiorente. I walked down the old concrete path next to the café where young men go to place bets between each other or on their phones, and women go to admire the outfits friends have worn. I looked down at my sky blue dress with a white glossy pearl necklace that shone like diamonds, reaching up to check if my matching sky blue hat with feathers stretching up from it is still in place. Outside, black, sleek cameras of photographers flashed like a million stars, exploding all at once at the horses who had just ran. I made my way past the banners, flags and posters splattered with vibrant colours and words like, “Melbourne Cup 2013” or “Flemington Racecourse.” Staring at the words made me think of the big race, my heart began to beat faster, like fifty drums pounding at once. I quickly snapped out of it, shaking my head as if I could clear everything buzzing around in my mind. I took a deep breath and set out to the stalls.


The sun shone brightly in my eyes as I entered the stalls. It was filled with the familiar clip-clopping of the surrounding horses echoing throughout the area. I could see Sea Moon, Brown Panther and Red Cadeaux, whingeing for food or the trainers to come get them. My eyes searched the stalls for Fiorente. Finally, finding stall number 6, I walked over to him. Fiorente’s head came up in sight of me. I trailed my hand across his face, his dark brown coat shining in the sun.

“Don’t worry I’m sure you’ll be great” I whispered soothingly to him. I thought back to last year’s Melbourne Cup: Fiorente finishing 2nd. I remembered the past week: all the running, all the swimming, all the times we’ve been here, practicing pacing for a 1400 metre race. Pressure built in my chest; heavy. A tense wave of nerves washed over me as I heard the trumpet sound to mark the beginning of the next race. One more race to go, I thought to myself as I saw my foreman coming to saddle up Fiorente and get him ready for the upcoming race.

I walked over past the mounting yard stopping briefly to look at all the horses coming into view, finally seeing them all together at once made my head spin, a 1 out of 24 chance of winning this race. I quickly ran over the conversation I had with my Husband, Rob this morning

“I don’t think I can go to the races,” I had said to him

“What are you talking about?” he replied to me, clearly shocked at my words

“I’m so concerned that if Fiorente doesn’t win the Cup I don’t think I can face all the people, like ordinary people,” I answered his astonishment.


“Don’t be ridiculous, just go off to the races, he’ll win the race,” he said to me, patting me on the shoulder. The sounding trumpet, brought me back to reality along with some nerves. Watched my foreman leg Damien Oliver up on to Fiorente’s back, picking up my pace I hurried up the stairs to take my place next to Robbie and the 40 other owners of Fiorente in the owners and trainers Grand Stand. I took my binoculars out of my bag and raised them up to meet my eyes. I saw Fiorente making his way out of the mounting yard with his jockey; Damien Oliver mounted firmly to his back as they made their way up to the barrier.

My leg started to bounce nervously as the horses slowly- one by one went into the barrier. The crowd was hushed into a dead silence, all that could be heard was the voice of the commentator as it echoed out into what seemed to an empty void. This is it I think to myself, struggling to keep excitement and nervousness contained within me. All the horses were in the barrier the commentator said his final words. Then the doors to the barrier opened.

The horses leapt out the gates along with their jockeys like it was on fire. The race was on. Through my binoculars that were pressed tightly to my eyes I watched as the horses pushed and shoved for a better position, shouts and screams exploded from the crowd. People everywhere jumping up and down, waving their fists in the air; screaming like there’s no tomorrow.
“Come on, come on, come on!!” I chanted to myself, as I searched the mass of horses for Fiorente, finally I saw a flash of black and purple, Fiorente was among the middle of the group. As they were coming into the home turn every nerve in my body was singing with excitement. Fiorente snuck to the outside closing in on Red Cadeaux, the two of them separated from the group, racing about 1 or 2 lanks ahead, Red Cadeaux was in 1st, then Fiorente, then Red Cadeaux, then Fiorente, then Red Cadeaux. They were closing in on the finishing post. The audience was going mad. The hooves of all the horses galloping across the track was like an earthquake. The cracking the whips. 500ms, 400ms, 300ms.

“COME ON FIORENTE!!” I shout.

250ms, 200ms. Red Cadeaux was still in 1st, Fiorente close behind him. Suddenly as if Fiorente heard me and everyone else in the audience who’d placed a bet him shouting, he raced past Red Cadeaux just in time to cross the finishing post in 1st place.

I jumped up out of my seat, almost throwing the binoculars, everyone sitting around me screamed with joy. My heart was beating so fast I thought I might break out my chest, I was filled with a wonderful sensation of relief, of a job well done, and the surrounding audience members scream and shout as if they were trying to wake the dead. In the 150 years that the Melbourne cup has been up, I was the 3rd women in racing history to win it. It was truly a dream come true.






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