Bully, the bossy donkey is either the world’s best example of, ‘If at first you don’t succeed …’, or perhaps ‘Let’s change direction and I’ll beat them that way.’
Kim’s husband, Mark Waugh, always loved horses as much as hitting sixes and winning cricket test matches, but he had to keep his distance. He was allergic to horses.
Kim, his wife of 15 years recalls, ‘In those early months when we were together, his eyes would start watering the moment he came near my stables.’
Mark was a punter and thoroughbred owner before meeting Kim, but his nose would run, and he sneezed and wheezed his way around horses. Not an ideal way to be when the love of your life is a racehorse trainer.
‘So every fortnight for a year, I gave him a needle into his arm,’ says Kim. Now allergy-free, Mark ‘rarely sheds a tear at the track … unless he’s backed a loser!’
Kim was only five when she had her first pony, riding at the local pony club, then graduating to major shows, winning trophies and swathes of blue ribbons.
Her uncle trained harness horses and a family friend owned thoroughbreds. Kim got work with Charlie Parson, a legendary harness racing trainer, who was instrumental in developing her hands-on horse skills, something that was to stand her in good stead when she later made a career change to racehorse training.
During her years at the paceway, she paved the way for women to become more involved in what was once a male-dominated industry.
‘At Charlie’s we always had from 20 to 30 horses, and I’d work from sun-up to sundown doing everything from shoeing to training and driving in races.
‘When I made the move to thoroughbred racing it was like starting off all over again,’ recalls 56-year-old Kim. ‘I had some pretty ordinary horses, but I also had a few winners.’
Steadily, her dedication, determination and persistence began to pay off, and in 2005, a gelding named Mahtoum won the $800,000 Sydney Cup.
It’s likely that if this six-year-old had been with a bigger, more highly profiled stable, it would not have run in this prestigious race. The thoroughbred had overcome a broken pelvis and a severe tendon injury, so could have been considered a liability and retired for life.
Mahtoum’s part owner, Robert Roulston, said after the win, ‘I like the individual attention Kim gives each horse — she lives, breathes and feels for them.’ That attitude has never changed.
After a few more years at Rosehill, the Waughs moved to the Central Coast and, in late 2013, bought 50 hectares on Watagan Forest Drive in Jilliby. Mahtoum Lodge is a state-of-the-art facility featuring fabulous paddocks, a ten-horse barn, treadmill and riding arena.
She cares deeply for those in her care and is extremely patient with them all.
‘Although I’m not so patient with people,’ she confesses.
Her love for animals is very apparent. As well as the horses, five dogs of varying shades and sizes bounce around the property, and a three-metre long python named ‘Diamond’ who officially oversees rodent eradication. (Sadly, he was not around the day Mark discovered his safely stored Baggy Green cap had been half eaten by a rat.)
And then there is ‘Bully’, the bossy miniature donkey.
‘He was eight days old when his mother rejected him, so I took him into our house and fed him every four hours.’
Now in the peak of health, he still comes into the house, keen to see what titbits mum might have, and to nip any unsuspecting visitors on the backside.
‘We put up his photos on Facebook and he became a bit of a social media star. At the first Ashes test in Brisbane the cricketers and their wives were even asking Mark how ‘Bully’ was!
‘He has the run of all the paddocks, and thinks he can outrace the horses which are fascinated by him. He just loves living here.’
And so do Kim and Mark.
‘Mark’s very handy and does a lot around the farm. For a guy who never mowed a lawn ’til coming to Jilliby, he’s doing OK.
‘During the week I’m up at 4 am and in bed by 8.30 pm. We sometimes go to Wyong or Terrigal for an early meal — there are some great places to eat.
‘At the Lodge I have a great team, and the horses benefit from coming here then back to Wyong Racecourse that’s just 10 minutes away. It’s so nice to be able to bring a horse home here every day of the week and give him a little break. And I’m looking forward to them all doing well throughout the year.’
A wonderful life and one definitely not to be sneezed at!