Australia has recognised two trailblazers of horse racing in the country by honouring Gai Waterhouse and Michelle Payne for their successes.
Waterhouse, known as the ‘First Lady of Australian racing’, has become an Officer of the Order of Australia “for distinguished service to the thoroughbred horse racing industry, particularly as a leading trainer, and as a role model for young women”.
Reacting to the news the 66-year-old said: “I am very honoured and humbled to have received this award. I feel that I have been able to contribute to my industry, the racing world and also the people whom I’ve been privileged to work with.”
Waterhouse, who is based in Sydney where she now trains in a partnership with Adrian Bott, has trained more than 4.000 winners, of which 141 have been at G1 level, and was the first Australian woman to train the winner of the Melbourne Cup when Fiorente triumphed in 2013.
Payne, 35, made history when becoming the first woman to ride the winner of the Melbourne Cup on Prince Of Penzance in 2015. She has ridden 763 winners but also has started training from Ballarat, Victoria, where she has sent out 33 winners.
She told RSN927am: “I obviously feel very honoured to be receiving the award. I was very surprised – I am doing what I love. I am very passionate about the sport and to be awarded for that is an added bonus.”
She received the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day awards list which recognised 844 Australians, announced by the Governor-General.