Australia’s horse racing royalty, along with a bona fide Pacific island princess and some members of the country’s society and political elite, bid farewell to Suzanne Waterhouse, the matriarch of the country’s premier horse trainer and bookmaking dynasty.
Ms Waterhouse, who died last month aged 93, was remembered at a memorial service at Sydney’s Mosman on Thursday as “hysterically funny even on her deathbed” – even as she attended rock concerts in her 80s.
Suzanne’s bookmaker son Robbie Waterhouse; daughter-in-law, Australia’s top racehorse trainer Gai Waterhouse; her son, businessman Tom; and Robbie and Gai’s daughter, racing fashion icon Kate Waterhouse and her husband, retired NFL footballer Luke Ricketson, all attended the service.
Guests who gathered at Scots Kirk Church included Princess Latufuipeka Tuku’aho of Tonga, former Liberal Party senators Bronwyn Bishop and Helen Coonan, a representative of New South Wales Governor Margaret Beazley, NRL WAG and the Real Housewives of Sydney star Terry Biviano, as well as Eastern Suburbs socialite Angela, Belle McSweeney and racehorse owner and breeder John Muir.
Suzanne, the widow of Big Bill Waterhouse – once the largest bookmaker in the world – went to hospital after a massive heart attack at the end of August and died peacefully surrounded by her family.
Nicknamed “Suzy” by the Waterhouse family, she was remembered as a special friend of “the people of Tonga,” as her late husband had served as Honorary Consul General of Tonga.
Tom and Robbie Waterhouse lead pallbearers out of the church in Mosman in Sydney’s north
Tom Waterhouse arrives at his grandmother Suzanne’s funeral with his children Layla, Rose and William
Luke Ricketson and Kate Waterhouse arrive at the family matriarch’s funeral with one of their two daughters
Eastern Suburbs socialite and NRL WAG and Real Housewives of Sydney star Terry Biviano arrives for the funeral of Waterhouse family matriarch Suzanne at Scots Kirk church on Thursday
Tom’s wife Hoda Waterhouse arrives in Mosman on Thursday morning for the memorial service for her husband’s grandmother Suzy
Top Sydney horse trainer Gai Waterhouse arrives at the funeral of her mother-in-law, family matriarch Suzanne, at Scots Kirk in Mosman on Thursday
In a eulogy for his mother, Robbie Waterhouse described his mother as “a great role model and a great inspiration – she was a true matriarch” who encouraged generations of Waterhouses to swim, sail and ski.
She remembered her “wonderful dry and sardonic humor” and wisecracks.
Robbie said she was “actually hysterically funny” on her deathbed and remembered her by quoting the late Queen Elizabeth II: “Grief is the price you pay for love.”
Robbie’s sister Louise recalled that their mother was “ahead of her time” and enjoyed karaoke and rock music.
She attended concerts, including that of pop star Pink, who was amazed to see “Mum at 85 dancing along underneath her”.
Family matriarch Suzanne Waterhouse’s (above) service at her funeral on Thursday was packed with family photos of her remarkable life
Former Liberal senator Bronwyn Bishop arrived at Scots Kirk church on Thursday morning for the funeral of her friend, Waterhouse family matriarch Suzanne
Her Royal Highness Princess Latufuipeka Tuku’aho of Tonga arrives at the memorial service of Suzanne Waterhouse, “a friend of the people of Tonga”, whose late husband, legendary bookmaker Bill Waterhouse, served as the country’s honorary consul
Louise Waterhouse and her husband Gunther arrive at the funeral of Suzanne Waterhouse, who Louise described as her “best friend” and loved both rock music and opera
Louise burst into tears and said: “Mom… I’m sure there’s an opera in heaven.”
At her funeral, mourners were presented with an impressive 44-page memorial service filled with photographs of Suzanne’s remarkable life, set to an operatic performance of Handel’s Serenade Where are you going?.
Both Tom and Gai Waterhouse gave readings, and Kate Waterhouse and Luke Ricketson read the prayers of the faithful.
The children of Kate and Luke and Tom and Hoda Waterhouse, Sophia and Grace Ricketson and Layla, William and Rose Waterhouse, all read poems dedicated to their great-grandmother. Sophia called it “the trunk of my tree” and Layla said it was “a goodbye.” so hard’.
After Robbie, To Waterhouse and Luke Ricketson carried the coffin out of the church, children rioted on the steps while Bronwyn Bishop, Terry Biviano and others chatted before heading to the funeral service, where mourners were expected to drink champagne in Suzanne’s honor.
The matriarch of the Waterhouse racing and bookmaking dynasty, Suzanne Waterhouse, in a commissioned photo with her husband “Big Bill,” the world-famous bookmaker, who died in 2019
Suzanne Waterhouse was the mother of bookmaker Robbie Waterhouse (right), mother-in-law of horse trainer Gai Waterhouse (left) and grandmother of Tom and Kate Waterhouse
Siblings Tom and Kate Waterhouse are pictured at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne
Bookmaker Robbie has previously revealed that his mother’s sense of humor remained until the end of her long life.
“Mum said to the nurses, ‘I’m obviously dying – Rob has never visited me before work in his life!'” he said.
Speaking about the hospital staff, he wrote on Facebook about his mother’s final moments: “They decided, with our permission, to administer a painkiller that can hasten death,” he wrote.
“Mom asked what it was, I said it.” [her]. She said, pointing her finger at me, “Et tu Brute,” which is what Shakespeare at his best makes Caesar say [friend] Brutus when he was stabbed.
“Mom laughed. What a star.’
“She was loved by everyone, her children Gai and Gunther, her grandchildren and especially her five amazing children,” Robbie wrote. “She lived her 93 years so completely and independently.”
Suzanne’s husband Bill died in November 2019 at the age of 97 after 65 years of marriage.
The couple had married twice. At her mother’s funeral, a tearful Louise Waterhouse revealed what her father’s last words to her mother were.
“She married a dashing lawyer who turned into a workaholic bookie, and their love story took an Elizabeth Taylor twist.” “They were married twice,” said Louise. “(Bill Waterhouse’s last words to her were): ‘I adore you and don’t want to live without you.’
Bill and Suzanne’s children Robbie and David both followed in their father’s footsteps as bookmakers, as did Robbie and Gai’s son Tom. Louise was also involved in the family business.
Tom’s sister Kate has worked as a model and journalist and is married to retired NRL star Luke Ricketson.
Gai, one of Australia’s leading racehorse trainers, is the daughter of the late Tommy Smith, another legendary trainer.
David, estranged from the family for 30 years, is an options trader.
Bill and Robbie had their bookmaking licenses revoked and warnings from racetracks when it emerged that they had prior knowledge of the Fine Cotton ring-in.
Fine Cotton was replaced by the more powerful Bold Personality in a race at Eagle Farm in Brisbane in August 1984.
Bold Personality won the race as Fine Cotton, but the fraud was exposed in part because of his painted legs and poorly colored coat.
At her husband’s book launch, Suzanne said the Fine Cotton affair had deeply hurt the family, but still found room for a joke.
“If we had had anything to do with it we would have painted the horse better,” she told a Sydney Morning Herald reporter.
Bill and Robbie maintained their innocence on the call and their licenses were eventually reinstated.