Granny a Winning Outsider
The first woman to train a Melbourne Cup winner was New Zealander “Granny” McDonald (centre), who prepared outsider Catalogue in 1938. “Granny” had the eight-year-old under her care for five years. She had prepared 300 winners, from steeple chases to sprints in New Zealand, but Victoria, then in the dim, dark ages of male supremacy, wouldn’t allow female trainers, track riders or strappers. Catalogue raced in Victoria as trained by Allan McDonald, husband of “Granny” and a former jockey. Born a twin, “Granny” was given the nickname at an early age — perhaps being christened Hedwick Wilhelmena Maher had something to do with it. She hardly lived up to the title. In the ‘30s, she was one of the top trainers in New Zealand. A scribe expounded: “A most accomplished horsewoman, physically admirably equipped, possessed of a women’s conscience and man’s resolution …” Following the 1938 race, folklore has it the New Zealand Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage, addressed a congratulatory telegram to “Granny” —not Allan — McDonald.