Kim Waugh is making another female mark in the male dominated thoroughbred industry. Working from her property in Wyong, Waugh has managed to wiggle quite a few winners under her belt.
Like most young girls Waugh had a love and passion for horses, this was helped by the fact that her uncle owned and bred race horses. Waugh would always help in the training and caring of the horses. This gave Waugh a very grounded background in dealing with horses, and aided her future careers in both harness racing and thoroughbred training.
Waugh started harness racing when she was 16; she always found the industry to be fairly friendly. With the contacts she developed from helping at her uncle’s stables, Waugh built up a successful driving career. She was one of the very few female drivers at the time, Waugh felt she had to work hard to convince people she was serious about what she was doing, but was always very professional in the way she conducted herself.
Waugh later decided to give up her driving career and applied for a license to train thoroughbreds. At the time it was said Waugh was giving up a very promising career, but she has no regrets“It was a decision I had always planned,it felt like a natural progression”.
Above Kim Waugh
Photo by Steve Hart
Waugh knew she couldn’t stay in harness racing forever, and with the bigger money in thoroughbreds it wasn’t a hard decision to make.
Waugh opted for a career change but it wasn’t a dramatic lifestyle change. “You are dealing with the horses in similar ways.” Having had a solid background in racing really helped boost Waugh’s immediate career. Waugh was good with horses and knew what she was doing.
It was a struggle to have to rebuild her reputation in the new industry, “People expected you to prove yourself, but I always felt if you’re good at one you’re good at the other too” But it was soon established that Waugh was serious about her new career and her reputation from harness racing was justified. “It was more about getting people’s confidence and making them trust you know what you’re doing”
Currently Waugh has 22 horses. Waugh says she prefers a smaller number because she can enjoy one on one training and a greater knowledge of each horse. “I could tell you each one’s tricks or anything about them”. Waugh works very intensely with her horses, from 3:45 in the morning to 9am and then again at 2:30pm until 5pm. Waugh will work one on one with a horse after it has raced, she enjoys this special work.
Kim and her husband Mark own the racing syndicate Club Waugh. Club Waugh is designed to give people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford to own a race horse, the opportunity to invest in a top thoroughbred with others. Club Waugh was ready to launch the 4th round of horses when Equine Influenza struck. “We were ready to launch the week after EI struck, it was all very costly”. All the advertising and preparation had to be scrapped and Club Waugh was closed for 2008. However Kim and Mark are looking optimistic for later this year. “We are considering relaunching later this year, it really depends if everyone is over EI”.
I asked Kim if it was difficult living where they live, and owning the syndicate when Mark Waugh is allergic to horses. “Initially when we started going out he had awful reactions, now his immune system has increased and he is much better. He will come and watch the races and training, he will hold the horses if I need to go get something, and even go to the stables and pat them.”
Finally, what does Kim Waugh feel is her most satisfying result? “Winning the Sydney Cup with Mahtoum. We had such a small team and it was my first Group One win. Some people go their whole careers without a Group One.”