Ad Jo Taylor and Verry Elleegant after winning the 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

New adventures for Jo Taylor

1 December 2023 Written by Celia Purdey

South African born and raised, Chris Waller Racing foreperson Jo Taylor has been a familiar face on TV screens during post-race interviews after welcoming back another Chris Waller-trained galloper to scale following a win at a Melbourne metro track.

For the past decade, Taylor held the position of Melbourne foreperson for the powerful Waller yard, and in that capacity has helped put the polish on superstar Winx on her forays south, as well as other champions such as Nature Strip and Verry Elleegant just to name a few. She is now moving on to explore her international career in Dubai, working with Australian trainer, Michael Costa in his growing stable.

After developing as a showjumping rider in her youth, growing up in a small village about an hour south of Johannesburg, Taylor got the racing bug when she began working for her uncle Brett Webber, a hobby trainer. She then went to South Africa’s leading mentor Charles Laird, for whom she was an assistant trainer and ran a satellite yard at The Vaal.

It was in 2016 that Jo got the chance to take over the running of the Melbourne operation. It was a high-pressure job, but she thrived on the challenge.

While she gave every horse the same amount of dedication, she did once admit that whenever Winx was in her care, “ .. she was the first horse I looked at in the early morning, and the one I thought of last thing at night as my head hit the pillow.”

Jo Taylor, Chris Waller and James McDonald after Atishu after won the 2023 TAB Champions Stakes. (Scott Barbour/Racing Photos)

Jo has learned from one of the best in the world in Waller, and relishes every lesson.

“It has been a great opportunity and always interesting. Chris has been fantastic to work for. I owe him so much, he jump-started my life in racing and I learned something every day.”

On social media, Waller and his team declared it a “sad day” as they farewelled Taylor in November, but expressed their excitement for her next chapter, and their gratitude for her dedication. “She is a hardworking, passionate, loyal woman and one we are extremely proud of,” they stated.

Taylor had instant success in Melbourne in 2016. (Pat Scala/Racing Photos)

She made the move to Australia in 2011 on the recommendation of Peter Muscatt, a countryman who was by then working for Waller in Sydney.

 “Chris sponsored my visa and I have stayed ever since. Originally, I came to be a rider but I have worked my way through the ranks and learned the ropes.

“I became his travelling foreman and had plenty of trips around Australia and overseas. I came down to Melbourne for the Spring Carnival, went to Perth and the Gold Coast, so it was great for a girl from South Africa to be working with horses and seeing the country.

“I also went to England in 2015 with Brazen Beau when he ran at Royal Ascot, and to Hong Kong with Preferment, and was fortunate enough to travel with Winx when she began her streak in Queensland in 2015.”