One of the more hilarious moments in Australian racing came about at the 2013 All Aged Stakes at Randwick. It brought together professional character John Singleton, Australia’s top racehorse trainer Gai Waterhouse, her high-profile bookie son Tom, rugby league immortal Andrew Johns, jockey Allan Robinson and former brother owner Eddie Hayson.
The horse at the centre of it all, More Joyous, was owned by Singleton and trained by Waterhouse, and had 21 wins from 32 starts, racking up $4.6 million in prize money. She was the best horse Singleton had owned.
Singleton had already has some issues with Waterhouse over More Joyous, despite her Group One wins. Before the 2012 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, Singleton told his racing manager, Duncan Grimley, to instruct Gai to choose barrier four to six if she got the chance – Singleton thought his horse had a chance with those in the 2040 metre race.
At the barrier draw, More Joyous’s name came out first, giving Gai the choice of any barrier she wanted. She picked barrier eleven. Singo was not on board:
‘It will be almost impossible for her to win now. The bookies aren’t idiots − she is out to $13 and will probably end up $20 on race day. I’m absolutely gutted.’
Waterhouse didn’t agree, saying “My job is to win the race and I think she has a terrific barrier”. More Joyous was trapped wide at the first turn and finished 11th.
When The All Aged Stakes came around, the race was hyped up as the showdown between More Joyous and All Too Hard, the half-brother of legendary Black Caviar. Gerry Harvey had bought the three-year-old from Nathan Tinkler for $20 million.
Singo was enjoying a day out with Harvey, but the mention of More Joyous’s chances in the race set him off:
‘Absolutely no confidence because the trainer’s son has been spruiking to all his mates, very good mates of mine, that it has got no chance, it has got problems and I don’t know what the problems are and I don’t know what the no chance is.’
Singo might have had a few:
The trainer’s son was Tom Waterhouse, who, at the time, was Australia’s highest profile bookmaker, annoying us all every four minutes during rugby league telecasts.
All Too Hard tracked More Joyous from fourth, and swept down a clear centre to win the race, with More Joyous finishing second last, never kicking on.
Punters lost more than $10 million on the race, unaware the horse had been under treatment that week.
Singleton blew up at Waterhouse immediately after the race in front of the cameras, and in interviews, said he was sacking the trainer.
‘It’s too much. It’s a conflict of interest. Tom has been saying she has got problems, and I don’t know about them. When Gai’s son knows last night exactly the result today, the conflict of interest becomes personal.’
‘I just don’t enjoy her association. We’ve had a great ride, Gai and I. I was one of the people who went to the licensing [hearing] to help but I think everything comes to an end and this has definitely come to an end. It’s over.’
Singleton’s horses were moved from Waterhouse’s stables the next morning.
Racing NSW, who likes to focus on the pretend problems rather than the real ones in horse racing, decided to open an inquiry.
Singleton repeated his allegations sober, but refused to name his sources, saying only that they included a Group 1 jockey and others who were internationally respected:
“I’m not prepared to give them up, unless legally required.”
Gai Waterhouse hilariously told the inquiry John Singleton was “an absolute sham” who put “Chinese whispers from a trumped up, beat-up jockey, a brothel owner and a famous footballer” ahead of “a relationship that had been successful for over 15 years.”
She also suggested he was drunk before the race, which Singleton disputed:
“I had two or three drinks in the lead up to the race, and I had as many as you could get into me after the race”.
Tom Waterhouse appeared on Channel Nine and other media outlets to lay out his innocence and confusion. Waterhouse stood All Too Hard to lose $250,000. More Joyous would have been a $135,000 winner for his book, while Rain Affair was his best result. He ran a terrible book if he knew the horse was off.
It didn’t take long for Allan Robinson, Andrew Johns and Eddie Hayson to be outed as the Group 1 jockey and “internationally respected” others in the Sydney newspapers.
The first inquiry was adjourned after the three key witnesses – Johns, Hayson and Robinson – failed to show up.
Singleton gave an interview to his nephew, Ben Damon, on Channel 7 telling Johns to ‘man up’ and attend the inquiry the following week.
‘If I found out that Andrew Johns, who I have a high regard for, as has the whole Australian sporting community, has rung up and told me a lot of nonsense and has done damage not only to Gai and myself but to Tom and Robbie, I’ll apologise to anyone who was hurt by it,’ said Singleton. ‘He owes me an apology. He needs to front up and man up. How can you be so strong on the field and so weak off it? If he embellished it he owes me an apology and I owe them [the Waterhouses] an apology. My respect for Andrew Johns has diminished massively.’
Johns’ general boobery soon became the key to the entire drama.
He had already appeared on the Sunday Footy Show, telling viewers that Tom Waterhouse had told him More Joyous was ‘off’. Then someone must have explained that if push came to shove, Channel Nine might be more likely to back someone who spent many millions a year advertising on the channel rather that a footy pundit and he backpedalled, twice saying that Tom hadn’t discussed the horse’s health.
At the inquiry, Johns’s memory largely abandoned him, with his favourite phrase ‘I can’t recall,’ as stewards produced logs of phone calls and texts.
He did explain that he and Tom Waterhouse were talking on Anzac Day before the Roosters-Dragons NRL clash, where “Tom said he didn’t like More Joyous, All Too Hard and It’s A Dundeel.”
Johns then relayed the conversation to Eddie Hayson on Friday night at Brookvale Oval, prior to the Manly-Souths match. He said he’d consumed “four to six beers” when he spoke with Hayson. So, nine.
“I repeated the conversation I had with Tom, but I can’t be certain the way I worded it to Eddie Hayson,” Johns said. “I swear on my life what Tom said to me about three horses (More Joyous, All Too Hard and It’s A Dundeel), but I can’t be certain the way I worded it to Eddie.”
Hayson relayed some version of the conversation to jockey Allan Robinson, who then rang Singleton and relayed some version of the fourth hand information.
Johns went on, even more hilariously – stewards asked Johns why he STILL backed More Joyous, despite being told by Waterhouse he didn’t like it.
“I backed the horse because it was only Tom Waterhouse’s opinion. During the year he’s given me four or five tips and they’ve gone dreadful. I thought the horse could win. I was laughing when Tom said It’s A Dundeel (couldn’t win), but that horse wasn’t paying much.
“I’m a hopeless punter.”
Johns went on to say in a statement to the first inquiry that he had embellished what Tom had told him. Singo had some doubts over Johns’ discovery of the word “embellished”.
“He’d eaten a dictionary or someone at Channel Nine had improved his vocabulary. I’ve known him since he was fourteen or fifteen − he’s never used a word like that”.
Then came Hayson. He could not recall the exact words uttered about More Joyous, but remembered they were very negative. Hayson, the former owner of Camperdown brothel Stiletto, is nowadays banned from racetracks and the TAB, and the previous year, Tom Waterhouse had a caveat over the brothel for the $1 million he owed the bookie.
Next up was jockey Allan Robinson, generally regarded as a shady little shit who had 100 racing suspensions to his name. Robinson confirmed his involvement in passing on the news about More Joyous to Singleton, and then bizarrely said he would come back after lunch with fresh evidence, but only if Johns and Hayson were present. We missed out on that addition to the lunacy.
On Tom Waterhouse, stewards found:
‘There’s simply no evidence . . . that between when Mrs Waterhouse found out at midday on Thursday that the horse was not in peak condition and you spoke to Andrew Johns at about 4 pm, that directly or indirectly, there was communications from Mrs Waterhouse to you.’
Since to this point it had been established that Tom Waterhouse didn’t suggest he knew the horse was ‘off’, and the actions of Johns, Hayson and Robinson were the results of drunkedness, nincompoopery, big-noting and Chinese whispers, what did the stewards find out about the actual horse?
On the Wednesday before the race, Waterhouse stable foreman Dave Meijer had noticed the horse was off her food. It seems More Joyous had a stiff neck, and on Thursday morning the vet injected her with the anti-arthritic drug Cartrophen. On the Friday morning, More Joyous had been injected with antibiotics, after the Waterhouse stable vet, Leanne Begg, took receipt of test results showing the horse had inflammation. Both Singleton’s racing manager and vet were informed, but neither passed on the information to Singleton – he didn’t get in the loop until Robinson called him on Saturday afternoon to tell him word on the street was that his horse was not right.
In the end, Singleton was fined $20,000 for bringing racing into disrepute by blowing up before and after the race. Gai Waterhouse denied two charges of failing to inform the stewards about the horse’s health, but that didn’t wash, and she was fined $5500.
Hayson was warned off racetracks for six months. Not that it stopped him gambling any money he had or owed people away.
Good times, good times.