Alarm clock: Waller says racing must change with times

Ray Thomas 3:27PM 03 January 2021

Hall of Fame trainer Chris Waller has joined the growing chorus for fundamental change in the racing industry by advocating for later starts to daily trackwork and improved conditions for stable staff.

Trainers around the nation have begun speaking out about the long hours endured by stable staff, an issue exacerbated by early morning trackwork and later finishes due to twilight and night race meetings.

Waller made a passionate and articulate argument for the sport to adopt more modern workplace practices or risk alienating a younger generation of potential workers.

“Who really wants their children to be starting work at 3am, or having to drive to work or catch public transport at that time,’’ Waller said.

“And who actually wants to do it? Only those who have ‘toughed’ it out and had to do it.

“But we are not going to get new people into the game unless they have a mad love for horses and racing, and that is getting few and far between.

“We live in a city of five million people and Parramatta is on my doorstep but we don’t get school kids coming down saying they want to work with horses.

“We are going to shoot ourselves in the foot if we are not careful. The easy answer is to start trackwork later in the morning, as late as we can.’’
Waller admits the “burn out factor” is very real in the racing industry.

“I’m lucky, my wife (Stephanie) accepts it and I have a good team around me but if I wasn’t training winners, it would make it hard,’’ he said.

“We (trainers) are tired, we are under the pump, we struggle to make time for everyone. Straight after the last race we go home and go to bed.

“If you are doing it on your own and can’t afford to have a foreperson and office staff, and you are up doing accounts at night when you should be asleep, then it gets to you if you are not having a bit of luck.

“They are the ones I feel for the most, the young trainers coming through.”