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New faces at Flemington stables

5 June 2024 Written by Patrick Bartley

Renowned for nurturing champion racehorses, Lexus Melbourne Cup winners, and esteemed Group victors, Flemington stands as hallowed ground in the realm of Australian trainers. New trainers Andrew Forsman and Matthew Smith follow in the footsteps of horse racing legends who have established world-class reputations at Flemington.

The names Cummings, Hayes, and Smith resonate deeply with the revered Flemington track. They and their horses are not only celebrated for their triumphs on the turf, but also for establishing Flemington as a cornerstone for their successful operations – a tradition passed down through generations.

The late Tommy Smith, hailed as one of Australia’s greatest horse trainers, entrusted his stables to his daughter, Gai Waterhouse, who has since carved her own path to a record of stunning success along with training partner, Adrian Bott.

Bart Cummings’ legacy lives on through his grandson, James Cummings who heads up Godolphin, while David Hayes proudly watches as his sons – Will, Ben, and JD Hayes – continue the family legacy at Flemington, decades after their grandfather, Colin, made his mark on the track.

Reflecting on Flemington’s significance, David Hayes remarked, “I think Dad (Colin) got boxes here at Flemington in the late 1960s and he rightfully declared that Flemington not only had the facilities of a world-class track but it was positioned perfectly for him to relay horses from Adelaide to Melbourne on a weekly basis. We’re a third-generation training outfit helped by the facilities at Flemington. It suits us perfectly as a city base, complementing our Euroa property.”

These esteemed family legacies are joined by the who’s who of racing, with more than a few Melbourne Cup-winning trainers among them. Mike Moroney, Michael, John and Wayne Hawkes, Danny O’Brien, Chris Waller, Mathew Ellerton, Nick Ryan, Mark and Levi Kavanagh, Leon and Troy Corstens, Simon Zahra, Peter and Paul Snowden, and Anthony and Sam Freedman, whose family’s contributions have also left an indelible mark on Australian horse racing.

Anthony and Sam achieved the pinnacle of success by winning last year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup – an achievement not lost on the new generation of trainers, Andrew Forsman and Matthew Smith, as they embark on their own journeys at Flemington.

Forsman, 40, arrived from New Zealand to establish a satellite stable at Flemington, following a model akin to that of Mike Moroney.

While it’s undoubtedly an honour, relocating my stable to Flemington ensures that I’m doing the best by my team in New Zealand,” said Forsman.

“It’s an absolutely perfect fit. I previously trained with Murray Baker back in New Zealand, but when he retired, I felt the pull to expand my horizons in Australia."

“I’m coming to Melbourne to expand my team and be a part of the Australian industry.”

The satellite stable set-up is also a great advantage, as it provides Forsman the opportunity to have his horses race at Flemington on short notice. Horses can fly out of New Zealand and, upon landing at Tullamarine, they’re conveniently close to their stable at Flemington. This logistical ease extends to the staff, who can quickly travel from New Zealand to Flemington and resume their duties without delay.

Matthew Smith, 55, already houses 70 horses at Warwick Farm in Sydney, but is thrilled to have also ventured into Flemington, a move he is overjoyed about.

“It’s another leap forward hopefully for my business. I’ve never been afraid of travelling. By having a small base in Melbourne, it gives me the opportunity to bring horses to Melbourne and vice versa. Apart from training at an outstanding racecourse like Flemington, it will hopefully grow my client and horse base in years to come,” said Smith.

Matthew Smith calls his Flemington satellite stable “another leap forward” for his business. (Mark Evans/Getty Images)

“I’ve got horses for many Melbourne clients but I would love to grow that even more,” he said, reflecting on his ambitions. “My record in Sydney is good, and I’d love to replicate that success in Melbourne. So many great horses have come out of Flemington, and I’m hoping that will be reflected here as well. When you look at the big trainers, most have bases in
Melbourne, and Flemington is the home of some of the best racing you can have.”

Leigh Jordon, VRC Executive General Manager Racing, expressed his delight in welcoming the two new additions to the track.

“It’s always been a facility that we’re really proud of and you can understand why we have a significant waiting list for trainers hoping to secure boxes here,” he said.

“We are mindful that we have one of the most highly regarded training facilities in the world and we hope never to let that reputation diminish. We stage some of the finest races in the world and having boxes at the track’s back door is an untold advantage,” he said.

As the newcomers' step onto this revered ground, undoubtedly inspired by the legacy of Flemington’s champions and motivated to carve their own path to success, they join a lineage of excellence that continues to define the spirit of Australian horse racing.