Gai Waterhouse Racing co-trainer Adrian Bott sits down with us to talk about life as a trainer in a Hall of Fame stable, and how he got the role.
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While I grew up in racing and worked in various roles when I was younger, I took a bit of a different path to become a trainer.
I attended Sydney University where I studied Design Computing, so a little different job to what I’m doing now and my first real job in the industry aside from various stints when I was younger was with Racing NSW as a Steward.
That job led to being fortune enough to obtain a scholarship with the Godolphin Flying Start programme. Godolphin Flying Start was probably the lead for me to get the position here at Gai Waterhouse Racing. It’s a two year program and it covers really all facets of the industry, everything you need to know to have a vast knowledge of the industry.
When you graduate, you have a really a good indication of which area of the industry you really want to target moving forward. That was integral in me taking the next steps in my career in the industry.
Upon graduation from the course, I spoke to Gai and the team here and asked the team if there was anything available. They said to come on board with an open mind and a good work ethic and we’d work it out from there. So I came on board and found myself in various roles working hard and showing my loyalty to Gai and the business and the team here and working my way through the various roles and positions and that led to Gai offering me a position to take up co-training with her.
Being able to take out a co-license with Gai, I was very proud to be offered that opportunity. To see your name alongside Gai Waterhouse, who is a Hall of Fame trainer that certainly does make you proud when you realize what has been achieved.
My day usually starts at about 3 a.m. before track work starts. I check in with our various yards to make sure everyone is doing well then head to the tower in the middle of the track. There, I will give riders instructions on what to do with the various horses they’re riding and get feedback on how each of their mounts are feeling.
Training usually wraps up around 8 a.m. and from there I’ll head to the office to do some work. On any given day I can spend the morning returning client calls, talking to our racing manager about race plans, or talking to Gai about any concerns we may have on a variety of issues.
On days where we have horses run at a nearby track, usually I will leave the office around mid-day to make sure I am there in time for the race. If I can’t make it, I’ll phone Neil Payne who does much of our saddling duties so he can pass instructions on to the jockey. I always make sure to watch the race live or soon after it runs and will talk to Gai about the results within minutes.
On days where I don’t go to the track, I’ll go to the yards for afternoon stables to make sure everything is running smoothly. The team runs like a well oiled machine but with horses, there are a number of things that can happen so making sure we catch any issue quickly and early is paramount.
Depending on the day, I can be in the office until late at night though I usually try to leave by dinner time.
Targeting a race like the Melbourne Cup takes a lot of planning and can lead to long nights at times.
There are a lot of people that are involved in all steps of the process and the planning. When we’re really able to achieve getting the horse to the race and pulling off a result, I think it’s so satisfying to see the result and the joy that you’ve been able to bring to so many people – the owners, the staff that work tirelessly, the breeders, anyone whose had a connection with the horse in its career – to know that you’ve played a lead role in being able to achieve that and bring satisfaction to so many people. I think that’s a very rewarding thing.
There are so many different areas of the industry someone can succeed in. If you’re able to identify the key area of the industry you want to be involved in and target that, show some dedication, show some initiative, and with that the opportunities will flow.