Horses have been part of Rebecca Waymouth’s life since she was born and many of her close and extended family are part of Victoria’s racing community.
The Waymouth family have kept horses at their Boneo stables on the Mornington Peninsula for 18 years after moving there from Balnarring.
Rebecca started training as a hobby when she was 19 years old and still at University. Her first runner, Serengetti Blaze, was a winner at Woolamai.
How’s the season been for you so far?
It’s gone well so far. We got a new horse just for the Picnics, Keep Happy, he’s had two seconds and two firsts. Lunar Watch has had two thirds then a second on his most recent start.
Has your University degree helped in your career as a trainer?
We did a bit of physiology and animal biology plus some accounting which has been useful. Meeting a range of different people and gaining good communication skills has definitely helped with the running of my business.
Do you think that making it as a trainer has been harder for you as woman? In what way?
There are pros and cons, on balance it’s probably worked in my favour. Maybe some people think that as a woman I am likely to be a bit soft but I’ve proved that I can unlock a horses potential with my success with tried horses. Having success with my first runner helped, since then I have earnt my reputation.
What do you believe differentiates you from your fellow trainers?
We’re very family oriented with Mum [Debbie Waymouth] still riding, dad and my brother Rowan are always here working with us.
We give our horses individual care and attention. I know every horse, what they’ve eaten, what their actions are like. Keeping the number of horses in work at around the 10 mark we don’t miss much.
Mum and I have a great working relationship. We get along well and Mum gives me feedback on how the horses feel, it’s an advantage for us that mum rides work and on racedays. We’re on the same wavelength regarding how a horse should be ridden and tend to agree on the tactical changes that we can make to improve performance.
We also have the advantage of being able to vary our training methods. We can cater to horses individual needs, can move them around the property, or vary training with beach work.
Rowan has just launched a mobile salt therapy business with his business partner called Peninsula Equine Salts. I am a big believer in the alternative therapy and have had good results so far. We had a horse who has mucus in her airways and spent a lot on drugs. Just three Salt Therapy treatments and the mucus 100% cleared up.
Is having 10 horses in work the right number to sustain your training business?
Yes, it works well. Particularly as I also manage a stud. During the Winter work on the farm increases, I’m busy with the broodmares, foaling and weaning.
What’s the best advice that a family member has given you?
My Grandfather [Charlie Waymouth] told me that ‘Racing is a cycle, when it’s up, you’re up, when it’s down, you’re down. You need to go with the ebbs and flows. Good times don’t last but neither do the bad times. You just need to believe in yourself and stick at it.’
The pics of your family in fancy dress last month at Balnarring were fantastic, you certainly look like you have a lot of fun together.
My brother and I were born on the same day three years apart. This year we were celebrating his 30th with a spit roast and an 80’s theme.
Balnarring’s November meeting is always a good day and Keep Happy came home to make it extra special. When we celebrated my 30th we went as heroes and villains.
How do you find managing your owners?
As well as knowing the horses, you need to be a good business person to be successful. It takes a lot of time and effort to manage owners. Generally, owners love the horses and love racing. They’re thrilled to get photos of their horses, they enjoy the contact with the horses.
I’m very honest with my owners and keep communication lines open and if issues ever arise I know that I will have documentation. I’m not afraid to give bad news, if I think that a horse isn’t worth continuing with I’ll tell them and help find that horse a life after racing. Sometimes they take the news badly, but I don’t want to waste client’s money when they could put that money into a different horse and get results. Unfortunately not all thoroughbreds are destined to be successful racehorses but through programs such as Racing Victoria “Off the Track” program they can go onto successful careers.
When our owners have a runner at the Picnics, they have a great day out. Most owners just want a winner, it doesn’t matter to them where the horse wins. We can drop horses back to the Picnics as a way to help build their confidence and in doing so give them their wish and a picture on their wall!
What’s it like to be an owner of one of your horses?
I hope it’s a happy experience. I’m approachable, hope that they find me honest, sometimes I can be a little too honest!
I’m always prepared to mix it up a bit with the horses and might try jumping them to fix a problem, or an alternative training method such as road work or beach work.
Is attracting new owners a challenge?
It’s hard to get clients, especially in such a competitive industry. Some trainers discount their fees. I stay solid, keep my training fees the same and only want to train for those that want me to. I won’t twist arms or beg and don’t feel that I need to justify myself.
The biggest challenge with owners is making sure that they will pay. You have to be very careful, especially considering that you can’t do a credit check, you need to be able to trust people. Trainers can get into trouble with people who don’t pay so it’s a good idea to try for a background check and especially useful if they’ve had horses in training before.
Quilly Park were proud to sponsor the inaugural Cranbourne Corinthian. What did you think of Country Racing Victoria’s initiative?
It was a great initiative. The riders did a good job, the horses looked and performed well. It could have done with a bit more publicity beforehand though.
I’d also love to see a Finale later on for those who have raced through the season. Maybe a little longer, a mile for those who have had at least 3 Picnic starts.
What do you think Picnic racing could do to better promote itself? How can we attract bigger crowds, particularly for non-Cup meetings?
Develop a marketing programme and get the message out there to entice people to come. After people have been once they come again and again so we know that we’ve got a good product.
Racing Victoria could help with this. The Clubs are good at local publicity, it would be great to reach a broader audience and get the promotions to people living in Melbourne. Some of the racing websites and Victoria’s radio stations could run competitions.
Is there anything else that you think would benefit the Picnics?
I’d like to see a rating system for handicapping so that Trainers can get a better idea of the weight that horses are going to get.
It would also be great to get the clubs up to the same prizemoney, at least the $3k mark, as a leveller. That said, the prizes are a great asset but aren’t why I participate.
The beauty of the Picnics is that it’s fun, everyone enjoys themselves, it brings back the true meaning of a racing life. It’s not about the money, we’re there because of the horses. We can get their confidence up then put them back up to the Professionals.
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Photos courtesy of Naomi Seccombe Photography