Nathan Sinclair is a successful thoroughbred trainer, and an inspiration to those around him.

Story + Photo Mandy McKeesick

It is dawn in Moree in northern New South Wales and steam rises from hot flesh as thoroughbreds run track work. Stables are mucked out, horses saddled and unsaddled, feet stamped around a low fire, but a trainer is missing. “Nath was out till 2am piggin’ last night,” someone yells. “He might be a bit late.” Soon a 4WD rattles into the yard. The door is thrown open and Nathan Sinclair hops out with a 1000-watt smile and a pair of crutches. Neither the smile nor the crutches are temporary. 

Nathan was born with spina bifida, an incomplete closing of the spine, and his parents, Peter and Jenny, were told he would not live through the night. Thirty-one years later, he has proven both doctors and doubters wrong as he trains racehorses alongside his father, representing the fifth generation of a racing dynasty equalled (in longevity) in Australia only by the famous (Bart) Cummings family. 

Though he cannot walk without support, Nathan’s childhood was not so different to his siblings Jack and Jorja. With calipers on his legs, he was riding horses at pony club by four and at 15 was winning rider classes at the local show. “We once went for a medical check-up and the calipers were bent,” Peter says. “The doctor hadn’t seen that before and wanted to know what we had been doing. I said, ‘Just the usual’. The doctor asked, ‘What is the usual?’ and I replied, ‘Oh, you know, fishin’ and piggin’ and horse ridin’.’”

This love of horses continued and Nathan was granted his trainers’ licence in 2007 at age 18, an early age for a thoroughbred trainer, but his career immediately stalled as equine influenza shut down the horse industry. He had to wait 12 months for his first runner at the Mallawa Picnic Races in 2008 and followed this up with his first winner at Collarenebri the same year. He has never looked back.

This story excerpt is from Issue #127

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2019