'This history of the Waterhouse dynasty is a cut above the field of racing books that burst from the barriers this time of year' - Sydney Morning Herald
Drama, glamour, scandal, success - and very high stakes. The story of Australia's best known horse racing family has it all.
When it comes to racing, the name most Australians associate with the racetrack is Waterhouse. This is their compelling story.
High Stakes takes us from Bill Waterhouse's introduction to the world as a sixteen-year-old, working as a bookmaker for his father in the late thirties - going on to make money both on and off the track - to the headlines caused by his involvement in the notorious Fine Cotton affair in the eighties.
It examines his son Robbie's rise as a respected bookie and a knowledgeable judge of horses, to his spectacular fall, as a result of that same Fine Cotton affair, which led to a life ban from involvement in the racing industry. While the ban was lifted in 2001, he keeps a low profile these days. As Kennedy reveals, the same cannot be said of Robbie's wife, Gai, daughter of the legendary horse trainer TJ Smith. In a male-dominated world, she has gone on to rival her father as one of Australia's best trainers, training horses for a star-studded clientele that has ranged from John Singleton to the Queen of England.
Yet as High Stakes shows, the scandal aside, the marriage between Gai and Robbie was always going to be problematic. As the Sydney Morning Herald put it: 'It's not that the Smiths and the Waterhouses were necessarily the Capulets and the Montagues but the country's leading trainer and the world's biggest bookmaker were hardly natural kinsfolk either.'
Despite an already colourful history, when their son, Tom, stepped into the family business and became one of the best-known and most controversial bookies the country had ever seen, Kennedy describes how the dramas for the Waterhouse dynasty were only just beginning...
This is the book for anyone who wants to know the inside story of contemporary Australian horse racing, a world where premiers and millionaires rub shoulders with gangsters and girls with fancy hats. It's a world of passion, action - and very high stakes.
A journalist for more than fifteen years and long-term sports presenter on ABC News Breakfast, Paul Kennedy's books include Storm Cloud - Melbourne Storm's Demise and Resurrection and Hell on the Way to Heaven, co-authored with Chrissie Foster. He has also written and directed a film, Drug Game, which was a 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival finalist. He lives in Melbourne. Follow him @paulwkennedy