Bill Waterhouse, once the world’s biggest bookmaker, was given an “extraordinarily good send off” by his family, the racing community and the King of Tonga.
Bill Waterhouse, once the world’s biggest bookmaker, was given an “extraordinarily good send off” by his family, the racing community and the King of Tonga.

Right royal send off for legendary bookie

Bill Waterhouse, once the world's biggest bookmaker, was farewelled by his family and the racing community yesterday after a long life full of many headline moments.

More than 600 people arrived at St Mary's Church in North Sydney to send off the man who Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys described as "charming and charismatic".

Waterhouse, who saw Phar Lap race at Randwick in 1930, died late last month at 97 after a colourful life involving many highs and lows but son Robbie said it was the perfect way to remember his life.

Tom Waterhouse and his father Robbie carry the coffin of legendary bookmaker Bill Waterhouse out of St Mary's Church in Sydney. Picture: Mark Evans
Tom Waterhouse and his father Robbie carry the coffin of legendary bookmaker Bill Waterhouse out of St Mary's Church in Sydney. Picture: Mark Evans

"It was an extraordinarily good send off," Robbie said. "There will be lots of discussion and stories at the reception that's for sure. It is a celebration and it will be great.

"He had quite a few racing people there along with many of the leading bookmakers. He had people from the legal fraternity and people from the hotel industry there and people with diplomatic service there."

Waterhouse's early education was just up the road in the 1930s at North Sydney Boys High and while he was best remembered as a fearless bookie from the mid-1950s, he was also a lawyer, businessman and Tonga's honorary Consul-General in Australia.

Suzanne, the widow of Bill Waterhouse, greets King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau'u of Tonga during the funeral service. Picture: Mark Evans
Suzanne, the widow of Bill Waterhouse, greets King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau'u of Tonga during the funeral service. Picture: Mark Evans

Son Robbie once described his towering father as a man who "was overweight all his life" and would smoke up to 150 cigarettes a day while avoiding exercise.

"He gave me a great education and a wonderful childhood. He taught me how to be a good bookmaker," Robbie said.

His life was filled with controversy however and he was banned for life in 1984 for having prior knowledge of the Fine Cotton scandal but regained his bookmakers license in 2002 before retiring in 2010 at 88 years of age.

In his 2009 autobiography, "What Are The Odds?", Waterhouse wrote: "I don't pretend to be a 'Simon Pure'. I have sometimes cut corners to get what I needed, but I am certainly no crook.''



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