Horse Racing’s Most Famous Female Trainers

min read
A female horse trainer walking with a young black and white horse.
BetMGM @BETMGM Apr 04, 2023, 7:16 AM

Horse racing has been a male-dominated sport for many decades, but that is slowly changing. Over the years, women have increasingly come to play an important role in the sport, with many becoming racehorse trainers. Some have also gone on to have incredibly successful careers.

So, while you’re taking a break from online sports betting, join us as we take a look at some of the female trainers who’ve become famous for their accomplishments in professional horse racing.

What is a Horse Trainer?

A professional horse trainer has many responsibilities aimed at ensuring that a horse is ready on the day of a race. As a trainer, you must plan workouts to ensure that a horse is fit, monitor its health, manage all the staff involved with the horse’s care, decide which races it should compete in and teach it to be comfortable in riding gear and being ridden by a jockey.

In order to become a professional horse trainer, you need to complete various tests and acquire references before you’ll be allowed to train racehorses.

Our Three Favorite Famous Female Trainers

There are many female trainers who’ve become incredibly successful, but here are three that we consider to be amongst the best. 

1. Gai Waterhouse

Career Starts: 11,377

Career Firsts: 2,161

Career Seconds: 1,589

Career Thirds: 1,326

All stats taken from Gai Waterhouse’s profile on Punters.com.au at the time of writing.

Dubbed the “First Lady of Australian Racing,” Gai Waterhouse has had a very successful career as horse trainer, actor, model and business person. Even though she initially built a successful career as model and actor, she had a passion for horses which she got from being around horses her whole life. This was because her father was the successful horse trainer Tommy J. Smith. He taught her everything he knew until she was able to obtain her own trainer’s license. 

She claimed her first win in 1992 but really caught the attention of the Australian horse racing scene in 1995 when Nothin’ Leica Dane, a horse she had trained, won the Victoria Derby and came second in the Melbourne Cup just a few days later.

Since then she’s gone on to train a number of incredible racers, including the likes of Bentley Biscuit, Descarado, Grand Armee and Shamekha. She’s also received numerous awards over her decades-long career, including being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2018. 

She took her career to the next level by partnering up with Adrian Bott in 2016. Together the two have become a powerhouse in Australian horse racing.

2. Jessica Harrington

Career Starts: 725

Career Firsts: 73

Career Places: 147

All stats taken from Jessica Harrington’s profile on Attheraces.com at the time of writing.

Jessica Harrington is a trainer who made her mark on horse racing in the Irish professional racing scene. According to the Independent.ie article “Top Trainer Jessica Harrington On Her Unbridled Passion For Life,” Harrington was exposed to horses and the world of horse training from a young age because of her father’s work as a horse breeder. This led to her competing as a rider from as young as 11. Later on she also competed as an event rider at international level and represented Ireland in the Olympics. She transitioned to training in 1989 after she received her training license. 

As a trainer, she was first noticed for her work with Oh So Grumpy who won at Galway in 1995. The article “Great Gambles To Remember At Galway,” also from Independent.ie, remembers her success at this race. This was her first major success as trainer and marked the start of an incredible career. To this day she remains the only woman to have trained a horse that won the Galway Hurdles.

After her incredible start, she continued to train many impressive horses including the likes of Bible Belt, Curtain Call, Laughing Lashes, Pathfork and Moscow Flyer.

3. Josie Carroll

Career Starts: 5,604

Career Firsts: 939

Career Seconds: 769

Career Thirds: 698

All stats taken from Josie Carroll’s profile on Equibase.com at the time of writing.

The last trainer on our list doesn’t come from a family in the horse-training or horse-racing business. According to the Thoroughbred Daily News article, “Josie Carroll is ‘A Good Horse Trainer, Not a Good Woman Horse Trainer’, “ Carroll developed an interest in horses on her own when she began reading about thoroughbred racing in the newspapers. After finishing school she completed an equine studies program at Humber College and went on to become a vet’s assistant. 

She then moved on to become a groom for trainer John Tammaro, who gave her the chance to become an assistant trainer. After working, first under Tammaro and then Mike Doyle, she was eventually hired by Mac Benson, a Canadian trainer whose name is included in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. In 1994 she acquired her license and officially began her solo training career.

Carroll was first noticed by the racing fraternity thanks to her work with a horse named Tethra who managed to win three stake races. This marked the beginning of an illustrious career in horse racing in Canada and the US. She trained numerous remarkable horses, including Careless Jewel, Inglorious, Leigh Court, Lukes Alley, Serenading and Springside. 

She has also received a number of awards and recognition for her work, including being the first female trainer to win the Queen’s Plate in 2006, the second woman to win the Woodbine Oaks in 2011, once again claiming the Queen’s Plate in 2020 and being inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2019.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.