The art of Bart: Waller follows tried and tested formula in bid for Cup breakthrough

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Champion trainer Chris Waller has already been compared to the giants of racing but there is one man he wanted to emulate with Finche and Youngstar’s preparation for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup – Bart Cummings.

The Cups king might be gone but Waller, who is known for systematic, meticulous attention to detail, borrowed the 10,000-metre rule for his contenders in the great race.

Cummings used it successfully on 12 occasions in the Melbourne Cup along with numerous other near misses and placings on the first Tuesday of November.

“I was very conscious about it at the start of their preps,” Waller said. “Bart was the master at this race and you learn and follow someone like him.

“I’m short [of the 10,000m] with Finche and a touch off it with Youngstar in terms of races, but if you add in trials we get there.

“I know my horses get better with racing like [Bart’s] did and we get {to the Melbourne Cup] with them ready to peak.”

“I was conscious when Winx retired that people would think – how is Chris going to go now, Winx has won 25 per cent of his group 1 wins.

Waller will forever be known as the man who trained Winx, but the Melbourne Cup has eluded him with a third by Who Shot Thebarman in 2014 the closest he has come to glory.

He has refocused since Winx left the stable in April and has had a phenomenal spring. Four group 1 winners on one day at the start of October set a new mark for success and he has since won The Everest and the Golden Eagle, the richest and third richest races in the country. He will look to make it victory in the top three most lucrative races in Australia in the Melbourne Cup.

Waller ability to peak his horses on the right day is amazing and he has timed Finche and Youngstar’s preparation since they were fourth and sixth respectively behind Cross Counter in last year’s Melbourne Cup.

“We are still improving and I will never shy away from that. I can still get better,” Waller said. “If it’s following Bart or doing something different or better.

“Up until quite recently, I used to think that my career was a bit of fluke.

“I was conscious when Winx retired that people would think – how is Chris going to go now, Winx has won 25 per cent of his group 1 wins.

“I made a conscious effort that I wasn’t going to leave a stone unturned. It worked out well, maybe it was bit of fluke again.”

Finche, which is second-favourite for the Melbourne Cup, has had four starts since his fourth last year. He only raced this spring and won the Kingston Town Stakes, was second in the Turnbull Stakes and a brave fifth to Mer De Glace in the Caulfield Cup after a wide passage.

“I didn’t over-analyse it last year but I knew he would be a stronger horse in 12 months’ time,” Waller said. “He has had the benefit of a year in the warmer weather and his preparation is what we wanted.

“If I have a shadow of doubt, it is just the way I train horses for these really big two mile [races] where it is a test. I might be a little bit soft on them but hopefully we get away with it.”

Finche’s preparation adds up to 8000m on racedays, with his two barrier trials taking the figure to 10,200m, while Youngstar has covered 9200m in five runs, a total of 11,100m when her barrier trials are included.

“We have it a bit different these days. Bart probably gave them a race … we can trial,” Waller said. “I haven’t over-complicated the training side of things with these horses.

“I have just kept to our system and done what we do with most of our horses. That is not over-train but use their racing to help them go to another level. I just hope it is enough.”

Youngstar put in her best run this spring when third in the St Leger at Randwick a couple of weeks ago and Waller believes a mature Youngstar is better equipped to cope with the pressure of the Melbourne Cup.

“I think I ran her a year too early. She ran second to Winx in the Turnbull Stakes last year and I thought ‘you might be ready’,” he said. “I glad we get a second chance on Tuesday.

“She is a much stronger horse, she is 20 kilos heavier. She doesn’t look out of shape, she looks better for it. She will run the trip.”