Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing

2016 Melbourne Cup

Gai Waterhouse is already thinking the 2016. Melbourne Cup. All this year’s runner will be a year older, but after great runs from Excess Knoweldge, who is to say that won’t make it back to the race? With a better barrier, Excess Knowledge clearly would have finished closer, while if the out wide in the straight was the place to be, The Offer may have run a place. There will be other horses aimed at the great race in 2016, and with pnety of New Zealand bred horses in the stable and new Europeans arriving all the time, the search is already on for 2016 Cup runners. The truth is, Gai has been trying to win the Melbourne Cup since the day she got her licence, and winning it with Fiorente was the biggest thrill of the Lady Trainer’s career.

Excess Knowledge

Gai took the Tulloch Lodge reins in the early ‘1990s and not long after being granted a training licence, the future Hall of Fame trainer had her first runner in the Melbourne Cup. The horse was Te Akau Nick and he was 160-1 in the 1993 Melbourne Cup (the gelding had also run in the 1992 Cup). At the furlong pole on the first Tuesday in November 1993, had there been betting in the run back then, the gelding would have been even money. He looked the winner, only to be mowed down late by Vintage Crop, the Irish invader trained by the canny Irishmen Dermot Weld. Te Akau Nick gave the import weight in the 1993 Cup and was only narrowly defeated. The Lady Trainer was not bitter about the defeat, but thankful for having a runner. However you can bet your bottom dollar, that in her mind, Gai was already planning her attack on the next year’s Cup, while celebrating a runners up finish. Interestingly, Vintage Crop is the only horse to win the Melbourne Cup when having its first start in Australia. It is just a pity this historic moment came at our expense!

It took until 1995 for Gai to have another genuine chance in the big race. Well a genuine chance in the stable’s eyes, but a 20-1 outsider in the market. The horse was the brilliant staying three-year-old Nothin’Leica Dane who three days earlier had beaten Octagonal in the VRC Derby. Nothin’ Leica Dane and the Caulfield Cup winner Doriemus hit the led together at the 300m on the first Tuesday of November 1995, but the older, more seasoned stayer Doriemus was simply too strong and raced away in the closing stages thus relegating Gai and Nothin’ Leica Dane to second… again. Ironically, Vintage Crop ran third in this race. Gai had beaten Vintage Crop, but still had found one better.

The other notable runner Gai had in the Melbourne Cup leading up to Fiorente was a horse named Lineman. There were other runners in the great race from time to time, but Linesman perhaps was the best Cup run (trained by Gai) less the two runners-up finishes that are above-mentioned. Linesman won the 1997 Sydney Cup by six lengths in what was one of the best wins in the two mile handicap in recent times. This win in the autumn gave the stayer a free pass to the Melbourne Cup, and he of course was aimed at the big race. At the 600m mark of the 1997 Melbourne Cup, two horses took off together and they were ridden by the brothers Cassidy. Larry Cassidy was aboard the Waterhouse trained Linesman and Jimmy Cassidy had the privilege of guiding champion Might And Power over the famous two miles. Linesman and Might And Power broke away from the field and to most people at the track that day, they had ‘gone too early.’ History shows that Might And Power held onto win the race by an inch, but Linesman’s run is rarely discussed. Gai’s gelding held on for 5th beaten just a length. He took it right up to Might And Power, and failed by just a length. There is no disgrace being beaten by one of only two horses to ever win the big spring treble (Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup) and one of the great stayers of the late 20th century. One length over two miles is not far, but again Gai had come so close without taking home the Cup.

We now arrive to the 21st century and Gai is in the Hall of Fame and is dominating Sydney racing. Without setting any records Gai is also having plenty of Group 1 success in Melbourne, but the Lady Trainer is lacking one thing… starters in the Cups. Then almost as if something had flickered in Gai’s head, she started a world-wide search for Cup runners. New Zealand and Europe were the places to find stayers and the later certainly has taken over from the Shaky Isles lately in regards to success in the Cup, although after this year things may again be swinging around towards New Zealand.

Fiorente winning the 2013 Melbourne Cup.

The first decade of the 21st century had come and gone and there was still no Melbourne Cup sitting on the dining table at the Waterhouse residence. There was a Caulfield Cup thanks to the kiwi purchased Descarado, but still no Melbourne Cup. Then the European invasion started to take place. Glencadam Gold, Julienas and in the weeks leading up to the 2012 Melbourne Cup, Fiorente arrived. In fact most of the stayers from the first ‘stayers package’ have run and won in Australia, and the second and third waves are doing pretty well also. But back to the 2012 Melbourne Cup, because after all, that is the race all the imports are purchased in the hope of winning. Runner-up again! Can you believe it? Gai had only very limited time with Fiorente before this race, but the Lady Trainer with all her wisdom and encouraging words changed up the stallions work at Werribee in the hope of getting him right for the big day. Gai had him walking in circles, running past the grandstand and doing things he was not used to as to try and get him ready for Cup day 2012 and 100,000 sets of eyes. Alas Gai’s great mate Lloyd Williams was to deny the Lady Trainer with his own imported stallion Green Moon. Back to the drawing board, but you can only imagine Gai shaking her head and exclaiming ‘we will win it next year.’

And win it the following year Gai did win the Melbourne Cup. Fiorente had a prefect preparation and won the 2013 Melbourne and in doing so joined the likes of Phar Lap and Carbine as horses to place in the Cup then win it the following year.

Before we know it, it will be Cup time 2016 and we will be talking about The Offer and Excess Knowledge plus numerous other horses both locally and internationally bred that will be ready to step up for the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

The facilities at Northern Farm in Japan

Rest assured dear owners, that no matter how many times Gai is to win the Melbourne Cup, and hopefully it is multiple times; the Lady Trainer will want to win the next one just as much if not more than anyone else on earth. It took T.J. 50 years to get two; Gai is half way there after twenty and from the stride in her step of late, she does not appear to have any plans of stopping anytime soon. Europe is full of horses that seem to improve under the Aussie sun and with the best team around, Gai will separate the quality from the weak quick smart for the foreseeable future. This fact plus the notion that New Zealand and Australian stayers on the way up indicates the search for a 2nd Cup is well and truly on within Tulloch Lodge. Just to cover all her baes, Gai has also recently bought into the Japanese market, and most believe this is now where the world’s best stayers reside.