An emotional Chris Waller declared he’d never forget this season after he broke his own Sydney training record with a treble at Rosehill on Saturday.
It’s been nothing short of an amazing 12 months for Waller — 15 Group 1s, over $30 million in prizemoney, a sixth Sydney trainers’ premiership and now a new mark of 169 Sydney metro wins.
And then there’s Winx.
So it was fitting that Winx’s rider Hugh Bowman was in the saddle as Pioneering bettered Waller’s 2012-13 mark of 167.5 in the McGrath Estate Agents Handicap (1400m) before Marenostro took the tally to 169 by taking out the Listed $150,000 Winter Challenge.
“I’m blessed to be here and I’ll never forget it,’’ Waller said. “The first time was extremely emotional, I’m still a bit emotional today. I don’t think too much about history but I am so grateful to be able to break a Gai Waterhouse and Tommy Smith record and then my own one.
“I have an amazing team of people behind me. They’ll be there tirelessly tomorrow and on Monday for the start of the new season.
“I’m proud for them and for the owners that have supported me. That’s so important to me.’’
One of the first to congratulate Waller was syndicator Denise Martin, who bought Pioneering for the owners, and she was beside herself with pride in her trainer.
Martin ended a long association with Waterhouse in January 2014 to send her purchases to Waller and was rapt she could provide him with the record-breaking winner.
“He’s a great horse trainer, unbelievably disciplined and wonderful to be about,” Martin said. “It’s such a thrill for our filly to be the one.’’
Bowman had Pioneering ($2.70 fav) positioned in the box seat behind leader Dee Nine Elle ($3.70) and, in a virtual repeat of scenes a week earlier at Canterbury, ran her down in the shadows to win. Art Nouveau ($8.50) was a further 2¼ lengths back in third.
While Waller has long said he never focuses on things like records he admitted he thought it was achievable a few months ago.
“We were always on target but you can’t afford to have a quiet quarter, you need to train a certain amount a month,’’ he said. “The beauty of Sydney racing is there is good, competitive racing 52 weeks of the year and you get to know whether you are on target for anything.’’
Of course, Cox Plate champion Winx stands head and shoulders above everything in Australian racing in 2015-16. When asked about his personal highlights, Waller choked up as he spoke about the mare and his Group 1 trifectas in the BMW and George Ryder Stakes earlier this year.
“She’s the standout and it’s hard to compare her to any other win,’’ he said. “She’s such a special horse.’’ – The Daily Telegraph