I’m raising a glass to Gai. Her winning Slipper performance, before they even jump.

April 7, 2012

Imagine three members of the same family lining up at the Olympics, to contest the final of the 100 metres dash.

Picture four brothers wearing the green and gold for Australia in a Davis Cup battle.

How hard would the applause be poolside, if you saw half the field in the classic 1500 metres final bearing the same surname?

Impossible, right? Unless your name happens to be Waterhouse.

Check the form guide today, and run your eyes over the Golden Slipper field. The world’s richest race for two-year olds. A highlight of the Australian turf.

It’s no mis-print. You’ll see Gai Waterhouse mentioned five times. Five runners, in a field of sixteen flying juveniles.

It’s a phenomenal training performance. And four of them are genuine chances.

Unbelievably, it’s not the first time. She pulled the same trick in 2001. The year she produced the trifecta, with Ha Ha having the last laugh.

Anyone who’s ever raced a horse knows what an incredible training feat this is. It verges on the ridiculous.

Most of us battle just to get one to the track. I have friends who’ve won big races. And others who haven’t. Lots of them.

We have a three-year old, who is still to hear the thrill of a race day crowd. He’s had enough health problems to make the local vet seriously wealthy.

Don’t feel sorry for us. He’ll be winning next year’s Cox Plate. Get your bets on now. But my point here, and I do have one, is that it’s so bloody hard just to get them to the races.

It makes Gai’s effort so much more amazing. The niggles and varied dramas that strike young horses, all over the land. And the First Lady of racing manages to get five of them ready for Sydney’s biggest day.

Sometimes I wonder whether she gets the credit she deserves. Such an easy target. Her own blood lines, and that theatrical bent. All these years on, all those Group Ones, and a few clowns still manage to find fault with her. Behind her back, of course.

I’ve written about the grand dame before on these pages. I barely know her, and she wouldn’t have a clue who I am.

I interviewed her at Magic Millions many years ago. On the run. She was happy to talk. Just not standing still. Too much to do, you see.

There we were, chatting away into the camera, at a pace that would have done one of her stayers proud. Her giving me detailed answers, and me wondering how her hat wasn’t falling off.

I’m like all punters who’ve won a quid from her over the years. By backing horses that are the fittest they can be. With the best jockeys on top.

She knows how important owners are, and treats them like friends. Not fools. A walking promotion for our great sport, even if it’s at a quicker clip than everyone around her.

So today, this wonderful trainer will have the job of cheering all five in running.

And here’s a tip. As impartial as she is, I reckon she’ll be watching out for one in particular. The strapping colt with the number one saddlecloth, Pierro.

Such a typical Gai horse. Trained to the minute. Set for this six months ago. With Australia’s top hoop doing the steering.

I’ll take the Gai factor over Blue Diamond form every time. Today will be her day, again. Actually, it already is. Applaud her this afternoon, regardless of the result. We might never see such dominance again.