Long before Gai was a girl and T.J. ruled Randwick, a champion named Peter Pan resided at what is now Tempest Morn, an ultra-modern stable that is one of four stables that make up Tulloch Lodge. This was in the early ‘1930s; Phar Lap was gone and the Great Depression was raging throughout Australia. Yet the stables that dot the map around Randwick Racecourse that would be made world famous by a father and daughter over the next 80 years, were still housing immortal thoroughbred champions and one in particular in Peter Pan. Beau Vite, Amounis and Russia also at one time or another lived and raced out of what is now Tempest Morn.
The chief stable and headquarters of the Tulloch Lodge Empire is the Tulloch Lodge stable on Bowral Street. Before T.J. set up shop here, the great Shannon called this piece of Australian equine history home. Shannon lived in box number 7, a box that has since been painted blue by Gai to highlight the legend of Shannon.
Once T.J. lobbed in the early 1940s, the champions certainly did not dry up. It started with Bragger, a horse that T.J. got to win on more than one occasion at 100-1. Later in life, despite listing Bernborough as the greatest horse he ever saw race, T.J. always listed Bragger as his all-time favourite horse, because when Bragger won ‘I ate.’ On Doncaster Avenue across the road from the famous post / pre races pub The Doncaster, a white apartment block named Bragger remains.
This area of eastern Sydney is steeped in Tommy Smith history. Yet it certainly did not start with T.J. Smith. The AJC were holding races such as the AJC ST. Leger from 1841, a hundred years before T.J. even got his training licence. T.J. is the most famous and most successful trainer to apply his trade out of Tulloch Lodge, but countless others have enjoyed the spoils of racing with thoroughbreds that lived and thrived out of the boxes that Gai still uses to this day.
In fifty years at Tulloch Lodge T.J. produced two of the best five horses to ever run in Australia and perhaps four of the best ten. Argument remains about the greatest horses we have ever seen; there is no definitive number one, two, three, four or five. However Kingston Town and Tulloch are cemented in all experts’ top five. There is no argument about this. T.J. trained them both. Then there is Redcraze and Gunsynd. These two immortal champions sit comfortably in the top ten greatest horses Australia has ever seen.
For one man to train four of the top ten is remarkable. Or is it? This is a man who won 33 trainers premierships in a row. 33! As well as the champions, T.J. had the consistent geldings and mares that are the cornerstone of any stable. To win 33 premierships in a row is one thing, but T.J. is also the greatest ever winner of Group One races in Australia. T.J. won the big races and the regular metropolitan races with unmatched consistency for 33 years. It was all done out of Tulloch Lodge.
Think of the events that transpired during T.J.’s reign. The legendary trainer worked out of Tulloch Lodge for the entirety of the Cold War. The atomic bomb, Vietnam, JFK, Korea, Iraq, Reaganism, Whitlam, Thatcher. T.J. remained a force for fifty years while the world changed every day around him. He adapted his methods both in regards to his training philosophy and the commercial side of the stable to meet a changing world over five decades.
With success comes expansion and while Tulloch Lodge on Bowral Street remained the headquarters, T.J. acquired several other stables to house his team of superstars. These days these newer stables, which still live under the banner of Tulloch Lodge are named Desert War, Tempest Morn and Bounding Away; they are named in honour of champion horses trained both by Gai and T.J.
In the middle of all these pieces of Australian historic real estate lies Randwick racecourse. This is where the magic happens. Still to this day, out of all the stables that lie under the banner of Tulloch Lodge, dozens of thoroughbreds worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each, emerge from tunnels and gallop in preparation for their next start. The stable is where the business is done, but the racetrack is where the money is made.
Randwick is the centre of racing in Australia’s biggest city and has on and off been the centre of racing in Australia. When one thinks of Randwick, the logical next thought is of Gai Waterhouse. Gai has taken the Tulloch Lodge reins and steered the business into the 21st century with as she would described ‘a full head of steam.’ In an era that is far more competitive than back in T.J.’s day, Gai has remained on or near the top for 20 plus years.
The boxes at the stables are the same as when Peter Pan and Shannon lived in them. The horses are the same breed, albeit with far more European influence than New Zealand influence. Trainers have come and gone. Stables have closed due to financial hardship, other stables have opened. Wars have been fought, Sydney has even been attacked, but Tulloch Lodge has stood strong.
Horses and racing are part of Australian folk law, and one stable owned by a father and daughter has contributed to this folk law more than anything else over the last hundred years perhaps less Phar Lap. T.J. Smith and Gai have trained over 400 Group One winners between them. Before Tommy, the four stables that now make up Tulloch Lodge housed horses that won plenty more feature races and sit comfortably alongside Gai, T.J., Shannon, Peter Pan, Redcraze, Tulloch and Kingston Town in Australia’s Racing Hall of Fame.