In what can only be described as a meteoric rise, "POM" Annabel Neasham is well on her way to becoming one of Australia's leading trainers.
Raised in a small town in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom, she found her love for horses in the same way many do in the country - through show jumping. This led to a lifelong love of the equine and one that has taken her on a remarkable journey.
In 2016 she packed her bags and headed to Australia on what was meant to be a working holiday. She is still there! Grabbing every opportunity coming her way Annabel has been schooled under the tutelage of some of the leading figures in the Southern Hemisphere's training ranks. Six months with Gai Waterhouse was followed with a very successful stay with the Ciaron Maher team. Her hard work and obvious talent led Maher to put her in charge of developing his Sydney operation, where the Brit sent out more than 50 winners in two years, including notable luminaries Dubious, Prague, Away Game, Holyfield and Cellsabeel.
With this superb record proving she had what it takes to be a successful trainer in her own right, she set up shop at Warwick Farm in 2020. A win with her very first runner very soon set her solo career's tone. From there, it's been success upon success and a maiden Group One winner followed very soon after. It's clear the girl from Northamptonshire will be a household name half a World away.
Deciding to take up the mantle of a trainer at the age of 24 Ciaron Maher has since gained the reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative horsemen in Australia. A former jump jockey he has the same fearless approach to his chosen profession as he did as a rider.
Described as having an affinity with animals by his father, Ciaron originally promised his parents that if things didn't go well as a trainer in the first couple of years, he'd go back and help them on their farm. Farming's loss is horse racing's gain.
Training his first winner in 2005 he has since saddled over 600 winners, including 10 at Group One level and has expanded his operations to Caulfield, Ballarat, Cavallino Estate, Merricks North and Warwick Farm. The multi-location operation means he has the best facilities for his horses and has a base near every major racecourse and race in the country.
His first significant winner was Moudre in 2010 while his first Group One success came along in 2014 when Set Square who took the VRC Oaks; he hasn't looked back since.
David Eustace joined the team in 2016 adding a more meticulous approach to the stable that mixes perfectly with Ciaron's more relaxed outlook.
Son of British trainer James Eustace, David has been around horses all his life and also brings a slightly different approach to training thoroughbreds. He gained a valuable apprenticeship in Australian Racing while working for Black Caviar's trainer Peter Moody before making a move to a more senior role with Ciaron. Also a former Amateur jockey he has a great understanding of racehorses and is proving an excellent foil for Ciaron as they target further growth and success.
Last season the Ciaron Maher stable trained 65 winners while during this campaign they have already surpassed that target by some distance.
Thought of one as one of Australia's more lateral thinking trainers with terrific attention to detail Michael Kent rose to prominence in the mid-1990s. It was a period which saw him take the Victorian mid-week trainer's premiership for both the 1993/94 and 1994/95 seasons in addition to becoming the youngest trainer ever to enter the top five in Melbourne, aided by the likes of Group 1 South Australian Derby winner Bullwinkle.
In 1996, eager to secure his financial future and expand his horizons Michael turned his attention to Singapore. During his first campaign he was the leading trainer in the country by strike rate and followed that up the following season, by finishing second in the trainer's premiership, a feat repeated in the year 2000. He would write his own chapter in Singapore racing history by winning the country's first ever $1million race as well as capturing the Triple Crown Challenge with Southerly Wind, the only horse complete that remarkable test.
Since his return to Australia, the winners have continued to flow, and he tasted Group One success when striking in the 2016 Australian Oaks with Abbey Marie.
With a wealth of experience, he is set to continue sending out significant winners.
Michael Kent Junior
The son of leading trainer Michael Kent, Michael Kent Junior has been around horses all of his life. He is very much a "student of the game" he has spent much of his adult life travelling the World to view the top international training centres and sales.
He gained valuable experience in all aspects of the racing industry while living at home before completing four years of pre-veterinary science at Melbourne University. During this time, he rode trackwork for David Hayes at Flemington. Next came something of a European tour to garner even more insight from some of the continents leading players. He spent a year with trainer William Haggas, both riding out at Newmarket and as an assistant at sales, followed by visits to Roger Charlton, Richard Hannon Jr, Willie Mullins, and a month in Chantilly with Mikel Delzangles.
More experience at the sales followed under the tutelage of Dermot Farrington and after two more years working for his father, he signed on to partner with Mick Price in 2019.
Since joining forces, the pair have enjoyed much success at the top level and have been a cornerstone of Phoenix Thoroughbreds' operation in Australia.
In the near 30 years, Mick Price has had a license he has become one of Australia's leading trainers.
Preparing a multitude of prominent horses Mick has established a reputation of being a talented handler of juveniles. In 2003 he saddled the trifecta in the Group 3 Blue Diamond Preview with Halibery, Gaelic Princess and Roedean before World Peace took out the race for the stable in 2004. Mick maintained his fantastic record with two-year-olds by winning both the colts and fillies divisions of the Blue Diamond Preludes in 2005 with Perfectly Ready and Doubting.
It's not just with the younger horses though he has tasted success thanks to victories in numerous Group Ones including the Futurity Stakes, Railway Stakes, Goodwood Handicap, Toorak Handicap and Blue Diamond Stakes.
One of the horses Mick is most recently associated with is Lankan Rupee, the star of the stable in a stellar 2013/14 season. The horse won the Group Three Heffernan Stakes, the Group Two Rubiton Stakes before graduating to Group One success in the Oakleigh Plate. His winning run at the top level didn't stop there with both the Newmarket and TJ Smith Stakes added to his CV.
Another runner synonymous with the Price name is Samaready, a Blue Diamond Stakes winner who added the Group One Moir Stakes as a three-year-old before retiring from racing having had only 13 starts but amassing prize money of just under $1.7million.
From his earliest days, Todd Pletcher was on track to fulfill an exceptional destiny.
From the age of seven, he helped his trainer around the yard father Jake before spending his summers off from school as a groom. Gaining a top-class apprenticeship, he got a job with the legendary D. Wayne Lukas and spent seven years as a vital part of the team, working with such stars as Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch and champion fillies Serena’s Song and Flanders.
Pletcher founded his own training operation in 1995, and the rest has been racing history. A seven-time Eclipse Award winner he has overseen the careers of multiple champions, including Rags to Riches, the phenomenal filly who in 2007 became only the third member of her gender to win the Belmont Stakes. He is perhaps best known for his work with champion juvenile Uncle Mo, who has gone on to be a sort after sire while Always Dreaming and Super Saver have given Pletcher a place in Kentucky Derby history. Those and many other champions have helped him accumulate purse earnings, of over $360.5 million through May 2018.
Widely admired for his meticulous attention to detail, Pletcher has drawn clients from around the world and counts Coolmore, China Horse Club and Argentina’s La Providencia among his international owners in addition to Phoenix.
The word 'legend' should be reserved for people like Gai Waterhouse. Quite simply the first lady of Australian races she has won it all. Over 130 Group One winners on record which in six Golden Slippers, eight Metropolitan Handicaps, nine Flight Stakes' and a Melbourne Cup. Two of those Golden Slipper winners went on to win the two-year-old Triple Crown, Dance Hero and Pierro.
It appears the apple didn't fall too far from the tree either. Following in the footsteps of her father, the great TJ Smith, Gai first took out her license in January of 1992 and had saddled her first winner by the March of that year with Group One success swiftly following in October.
She took over the Tulloch Lodge training facility from her father in 1994 and the horses that have been through the famous yard read like a who's who of Australian equine royalty.
A product of the Godolphin Flying Start program Adrian Bott soon settled in as his role as Assitant Racing Manager at Tulloch Lodge in 2012. Progressing to Racing Manager the following year he as worked with some of the best horses in Australia. Since becoming co-trainer he has become a vital part of the team and is credited by Gai for much of the success of Phoenix Thoroughbreds homebred Golden Slipper winner Farnan.
Kenny McPeek has spent most of his life in the heart of America's "racehorse Capital". Born and raised in Kentucky and a graduate of the State's University, he took out his training licence in 1985.
Since then, he has developed a reputation for getting the most out of the horses in his care and often exceeding his clients' expectations. With over a 115 Stake winners, he has won some of America's most prestigious races including back to back renewals of Spinster Stakes with Take Charge Lady in 2002 & 2003. Not afraid to travel his horses he is a regular at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and has also saddled a runner in the Oaks at Epsom. McPeek is also active at the sales, sourcing runners before developing them into stars on the track.
The trainer's history with Phoenix Thoroughbreds couldn't have got off to a better start with his first runner for the Dubai based group, Crazy Beautiful, running out an impressive winner on debut at Ellis Park.
As racing education go that of Brendan Walsh is possibly one of the most prestigious and rounded.
Growing up on a dairy farm in Ireland, he quickly discovered a love for riding. Those skills were honed at the Irish National Stud and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Kildangan Stud, which led to working as an exercise rider and stable foreman for Sheikh Mohammed's racing division in Dubai and at Arlington Park in Chicago. The relationship with the Godolphin supremo is one he maintains to this day, trusted to train some of the operation's North American stars, including G1 winner Maxfield.
Walsh fine-tuned his training skills in Newmarket in the United Kingdom, working for handler Mark Wallace for three and a half years before moving to the States in 2007. He first took up the post as Assistant to fellow Irishman Eddie Kenneally before taking out his license in 2011.
The Irish native built on early successes with the likes of Cary Street and Scuba to become a leading global figure in the industry. The victory of Plus Que Parfait in the UAE Derby earned him international praise, while Extravagant Kid's success in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint solidified his place among the elite.
It is fair to say that when you mention the name "Peter Moody" to most racing fans, they will immediately think of Black Caviar. Under the supervision of Moody, the super mare notched up a record of 25 wins from 25 starts, including 15 Group Ones. Her crowning glory, perhaps, her victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot putting to bed some of the World's leading sprinters.
Although what he achieved with the unbeaten mare is quite astonishing, it would be unwise to think of the Pakenham based trainer as a one-trick pony. Since saddling his first winner back in 1996, Moody has amassed 56 Group One victories. Overall he has cleared 2600 career wins and banked over $118m in prizemoney since the turn of the century.
Looking back on his path to the top, it is not hard to see how Moody has become one of the most successful handlers in the Southern Hemisphere. His working education has included stints with legendary trainers T.J. Smith and Colin Hayes, while he honed his skills as Foreman for Bill Mitchell for ten years.
Away from action on the track Moody is a regular at the sales, using his expert eye to guide his owners to the future stars. He also excelled as a TV pundit for Racing.com and continues to use his media savvy to help promote Australia Racing.