Story of the year
It was the best of years. It was the worst of years. Gai Waterhouse could have borrowed from the start of Charles Dickens' Tale Of Two Cities to describe her 2013. The face of racing was once again at the top of her game, preparing winners around the country. Her latest champion, Pierro, added the Canterbury Stakes and George Ryder Stakes to his two-year-olds' triple crown and was sold to stud for more than $30 million.
She won the Golden Slipper with Overreach, but the crowning glory of her career came on the first Tuesday in November when Fiorente won the Melbourne Cup. The import, runner-up a year earlier, completed a plan that was 16 months in the making. Waterhouse said it wasn't the biggest thing to happen to her in racing but for the rest of the year she took delight in showing off her Melbourne Cup around the country as she got back to the business of finding the next champion, inspecting yearlings for the new year sales.
However, it was the saga that started at Randwick on April 27 that would put racing on the front pages, end a friendship and have Waterhouse fighting hard for her family name. John Singleton's allegations that More Joyous was ''off'' when she beat only one home in the All Aged Stakes were jaw-dropping. Singleton went on television before the race and said Waterhouse's bookmaking son, Tom, had been telling his mates that champion mare More Joyous could not win.
The clash between Waterhouse and Singleton would have everything, involving rugby league great Andrew Johns, punter and brothel owner Eddie Hayson and former jockey Allan Robinson. ''It was Chinese whispers … a conversation between a trumped-up little jockey, a brothel owner and a football player,'' Waterhouse would say in the inquiry.
''That's why we're here, that's what our livelihoods are swinging on in front of you today. They're the people who are discrediting my son, my husband and myself. We've all come here and we are being ridiculed because we're here. It's an absolute disgrace. He [Singleton] has brought racing into disrepute.''
Stewards would fine Singleton $15,000. But his claims that there were problems with More Joyous were confirmed when Waterhouse was fined $7000 for not reporting conditions that could have affected the mare's performance in the lead-up to a race. The fine remains subject to appeal.
Chris Waller smashed the record for Sydney metropolitan wins in 2012-13 and his total of 14 group 1 winners for the calendar year reflected how his star continues to rise. Waller prepared 167½ winners for the season in Sydney to break the record jointly held by Tommy Smith and Gai Waterhouse. In Zoustar, which won the Golden Rose and Coolmore Stud Stakes, he trained his first stallion prospect and a deal for the colt was struck at $20 million. Boban, Red Tracer and Foreteller were his other two-time group 1 winners for the year.
Nash Rawiller had an eventful term. He rode seven group 1 winners, and produced a remarkable month of riding in July to win the Sydney jockeys' premiership from a seemingly impossible position. However, he also lost the ride on Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente mid-preparation in the spring. His class shone through as he steered Solzhenitsyn to a second Toorak Handicap success, and then at Flemington won the Myer Classic on Red Tracer and the Victoria Oaks with Kirramosa.
Racing fans are the poorer for not seeing the best of Atlantic Jewel. Mark Kavanagh did a wonderful job to get 10 wins from 11 starts from the daughter of Fastnet Rock. However, she was denied her ultimate moment when she was injured before the Cox Plate. Kavanagh took it on the chin as perhaps the best horse he has had was retired. Nathan Tinkler's empire that was Patinack Farm was significantly reduced this year. The dispersal sale in June turned into a farce when Tinkler started to buy horses back, leading Magic Millions to withdraw several lots. All Too Hard confirmed his potential in Vinery Stud colours rather than those of Patinack, and a stud career is under way for Black Caviar's half-brother.
The 'dropped my bacon sandwich' moment
Peter Snowden's departure from Darley was the shock of the year. He will set up his own stable from May next year when John O'Shea will take over as the head man for Sheikh Mohammed. O'Shea might not have been the first choice - Chris Waller turned down the gig - but he has the ability and experience to maintain the momentum.
The name we didn't know last year
Tom Berry was on the emerging list at the beginning of 2013. At just 21, he is now a star rider. Berry became Gai Waterhouse's No.1 jockey to cap a year that included winning the Golden Slipper on Overreach and the Doncaster on Sacred Falls. He also had a successful stint in Hong Kong, where he won a group 1 on his first day and later added another international group 1 in Singapore.
The name we'll be talking about next year
The ''Championships'' were announced in November and, as a racing event, have everything needed to be a huge success, with $20 million in prizemoney.
Tweets of the year
Black Caviar's unbeaten, 25-race career came to an end in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick on April 13. She announced her retirement to the world via Twitter four days later, thanking trainer Peter Moody, jockey Luke Nolen and her owners.
''Retired.'' April 17, 3:05pm
''A big thank you to the boss @MoodyRacing he has been my everything. He has managed my wellbeing, owners, media and his team incredibly well.'' April 17, 8:11pm
''And of course to Luke. We share a special bond, together we would take on the best and return to the winners circle together. I love you boy.'' April 17, 8:13pm