This is a classic Sydney story about a self-made multimillionaire, the matriarch of a racehorse training dynasty, her controversial bookmaker son, an all-time great rugby league player, a former jockey and a brothel owning punter. Together they played out a “only in Sydney” pantomime to the delight of millions of Sydneysiders.
Over two hundred years ago Captain Arthur Phillip sailed "The First Fleet" into the beauty of Sydney harbour and set up a prison with the best views in the world.
On board his flotilla were a few aristocrats, several bureaucrats, our first highly corrupt police force and boats full of convicts. Some convicts were murderers. Some were Irish political prisoners. Some were petty thieves or prostitutes and a few were the innocent poor caught in a corrupt system.
The makeup of the characters of the town I grew up in has not changed much over the centuries. At times the convict gene kicks in and the fun begins . . .
The multimillionaire racehorse owner is John Singleton. Known to all as "Singo", he is a working class boy "done very good". He has a host of ex-wives, including a former Miss World.
He has the Prime Minister’s number in his phone and looks after old mates who have fallen on hard times. We love him because he remembers his beginnings. He is the quintessential Sydney boy.
His string of racehorses were managed by Gai Waterhouse, the daughter of legendary trainer Tommy Smith. Gai is a classy and successful women. She married Robby Waterhouse, the heir to a huge Sydney bookmaking family.
Robby was warned off racecourses between 1984 and 1998. He was caught up in the scandal surrounding the substituting of a horse, known as the Fine Cotton affair.
Their son, Tommy Waterhouse, has just paid millions in sponsorship to appear on the TV coverage of the National Rugby League. He offers odds on events in the games via his online bookmaking business.
This is hugely controversial.
Things got very murky when Singo's horse More Joyous finished second last in the All Aged Stakes in Sydney last month. The night before the race, former Rugby League great Andrew Johns, who was made an "Immortal" of the game last year, was at a social gathering with bookmaker Tom Waterhouse.
Later that night Johns rang Singo, alleging Gai had told her son Tom More Joyous would not perform the next day.
Johns told a few other people. Allan Robinson, a former jockey, also rang Singo with the same information.
Later, while testifying at the stewards' inquiry into the matter, Robinson was asked where he got the information. He answered: "A mutual friend of ours, I can't tell you, but a Rugby League immortal." Brilliant. He knows how to keep a secret.
Johns also told the the same thing to the brothel-owning punter, Eddie Hayson. The bordello king stated to the enquiry: "What came from Andrew Johns was very, very negative . . . When it gets down to it everybody knew the horse couldn't win except poor Singo."
Hayson said the fact he had lost several hundred thousand to Waterhouse in the past did not motivate him for revenge.
By the way, it is reported the building housing one of Hayson's brothels is owned by the wife of Sydney's much loved former world boxing champion, the "Marrickville Mauler", Jeff Fenech.
Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
Armed with the wrong information, Singo had a very public disagreement with Gai Waterhouse. On TV he accused her of telling her bookmaker son Tom that More Joyous was not going to perform but not telling him, the owner.
Sydney was loving this
News reports later showed the horse transporters taking Singo's horses out of the Waterhouse stables. Sydney was loving this.
At the stewards’ inquiry Andrew Johns admitted he may have exaggerated to Singo the conversation with Tom Waterhouse. At the inquiry Johns could only remember Tom Waterhouse had not mentioned More Joyous’s health issues.
He swore Tom Waterhouse had said only he ‘didn’t like the horse’. Despite the fact Johns had made a string of calls and text messages, he could not recall why. Amazing.
Johns is also employed by Channel Nine, the commercial TV station where Tom Waterhouse has the multimillions dollar sponsorship of rugby league.
Singo had acted on information that was recanted at the enquiry. A wonderful Sydney balls up. Gai Waterhouse was a woman scorned.
Gai Waterhouse: “It’s an absolute disgrace. You’re an absolute sham, John, (Singo), you really are. They are the people who are disgracing myself, my son and my husband.”
Singo: “The mare still came second last, Gai.”
Gai Waterhouse: “Maybe she’s a seven-year-old mare and she’s old like you John.”
Gai later accused Singleton of being drunk when he confronted her and said “he has a reputation for drinking”.
Tom Waterhouse challenged Singleton to say whether he had anything to drink or taken medication on the day of the public confrontation.
Singo replied that he indulged in “a few beers”.
As the song goes, “My city of Sydney, I love the heart of you.”
If you are travelling with the Lions, you will adore my home town, Sydney.