Showing the way: Waller wants to take on new jockey challenge

Chris Waller Racing Newsletter 26.07.2019
July 26, 2019
Chris Waller warns Lucicello will get better and better
July 28, 2019

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Chris Waller is open to locking in a stable rider in the future after Seaway capped another record-breaking season for Sydney’s all-conquering trainer with victory in the listed Winter Challenge at Rosehill.

Tommy Berry rode a rare double for Waller, who will next week be crowned for a ninth straight season Sydney’s leading trainer, in the final stakes race of the season in Sydney.

Berry trails only Hugh Bowman and James McDonald for the amount of rides Waller has handed out during the 2018-19 term and made the most of his latest opportunity as he whisked dry-track specialist Seaway to sit outside the lead and then bound clear on Saturday.

Waller is flirting with an Epsom campaign for Seaway, but it was his admission he has not given up on bedding down a stable hoop that would have pricked the ears of many in the Sydney jockeys room.

“While everybody thinks we use Hugh, James and Kerrin [McEvoy], there’s still plenty for everybody else,” Waller said. “That’s the way we’ve chosen to do it.

“I’d love to have a stable rider, but there’s none really putting their hand up. We’re happy giving everyone a bit of a feed and making sure they’re doing the right thing by us as well.”

Pressed on whether there were really no applicants for the role, Waller joked: “I’m not answering those calls.”

But it was far from a laughing matter for his rivals as Seaway ($8.50) stalked the leader Cradle Mountain, who was found to be slow to recover after dropping out, and then held off a late surge from Goodfella ($13), which split Waller’s favoured pair as Eckstein ($3.20f) wound up in third.

Waller opted to skip the Winter Stakes with Seaway and was rewarded with a drying Rosehill track as he plots a path to spring success before the group 1 guns are at their peak.

“Those big boys and girls coming back from their winter breaks, they’re always a run behind,” Waller said. “That’s where horses like him coming out of races like this still have a chance to beat them.

“He’s that group 2 type of horse, a Shannon Stakes type of horse. I think he’s run in group 2 races before.

“I’d love to have a stable rider, but there’s none really putting their hand up. We’re happy giving everyone a bit of a feed and making sure they’re doing the right thing by us as well.”

Pressed on whether there were really no applicants for the role, Waller joked: “I’m not answering those calls.”

But it was far from a laughing matter for his rivals as Seaway ($8.50) stalked the leader Cradle Mountain, who was found to be slow to recover after dropping out, and then held off a late surge from Goodfella ($13), which split Waller’s favoured pair as Eckstein ($3.20f) wound up in third.

Waller opted to skip the Winter Stakes with Seaway and was rewarded with a drying Rosehill track as he plots a path to spring success before the group 1 guns are at their peak.

“Those big boys and girls coming back from their winter breaks, they’re always a run behind,” Waller said. “That’s where horses like him coming out of races like this still have a chance to beat them.

“He’s that group 2 type of horse, a Shannon Stakes type of horse. I think he’s run in group 2 races before.

“It’s not all about winning the big races, the prize money is still good running second or third. He won’t just make up the numbers and he’s a rough Epsom chance, but realistically the lead-up races would be pretty special if we could win a few of them.”

Berry is closing in on 200 rides for Waller this season alone as Waller’s overall runners threaten to crash through the $44 million barrier for the 2018-19 campaign.

“Chris has supported me since he came here,” Berry said. “I work very hard and I only ride there one morning a week and he rewards me with plenty of rides.

“Hughie is obviously there with James and they get a lot of rides well, but he’s up there with the Hawkes team as my biggest supporters which is great.”

Waller is hoping to sway Eckstein’s owners Coolmore to race the mare on after the group 1 placegetter and Winter Stakes winner surged under Bowman to fill a placing. It was widely thought the Winter Challenge would be her final run.

“I’m gently twisting their arm to suggest she’s still going well enough to win a decent race in the spring,” Waller said. “I’ll leave it with them and as we saw today she finished the race off very well.”

Said Bowman: “I’m really pleased with her, that was a courageous effort.” – Adam Pengilly, Sydney Morning Herald.