Chris Waller needs one more winner this Saturday to set personal best

Source : Herald Sun by Ray Thomas

Chris Waller’s shot at a new training record goes right down to the wire with runners in three states on the final day of the season.

Hall of Fame trainer Chris Waller is leaving it to the very last day to eclipse his personal best for most wins in a racing season.

Waller has multiple runners across three venues on Saturday, the final day of the 2020-21 racing season, including 18 starters in eight races at Royal Randwick.

If Waller can prepare one winner at Randwick – or Moonee Valley and Eagle Farm for that matter – he will break his career-best 339 wins set in 2018-19.

The champion trainer is tantalisingly close with 338.5 wins so far this season, and had an opportunity to break his mark at Wyong on Thursday but Barrichello (second) and the very unlucky Cat D’Oro (third) were narrowly beaten.

Waller’s best chances on Saturday are at Randwick where his stable runners include early favourites Criminal Code ($3.80) for the Agency Real Estate Handicap, and dual acceptor Vitesse ($5.50) for the ATC Thank You Trainers Handicap.

The trainer has multiple runners in the Randwick opener with Joviality, Seleque and Selburose in the ATC Thank You Stable Staff Handicap.

Waller also saddles up four runners, Zing, So Wicked, Savigne and Rules Don’t Apply in the ATC Thanks Frontline Workers Handicap, and another trio of starters, Betcha Flying, Wairere Falls and Nyami in the ATC Thank You Owners Handicap.

It’s another powerful presence both numerically and quality for the Waller stable and the trainer seems likely to secure the one winner he needs to put an exclamation mark on another stellar season.

But regardless of Saturday’s results, it has been another memorable 12 months for the trainer with his achievements including:

#Four consecutive national trainers premierships.

#An 11th successive Sydney trainers premiership.

#With 167 Sydney wins so far this season, he has a record-winning margin of 110 wins over nearest rivals, Bjorn Baker and James Cummings on 57 wins each.

#His stable is the nation’s leading prizemoney earner for the 10th year in a row with his runners earning $43.3 million.

#He has trained the winner of 15 Group 1 races to be the nation’s leading big-race trainer for the ninth straight season.

Waller has the equine firepower to continue his ranking as the nation’s leading trainer in 2021-22 with the likes of Horse of the Year-elect Verry Elleegant leading the stable charge.

Verry Elleegant gave an early indication she is ready to pick up where she left off in the new season when she closed nicely for fourth behind Golden Slipper winner Stay Inside in an all-star barrier trial at Randwick on Tuesday.

Waller said Verry Elleegant is likely to trial again before she resumes in the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwck on August 21.

Verry Elleegant is then expected to contest the George Main Stakes before Waller decides if the mare stays in Sydney for the Hill Stakes or is sent to Melbourne for the Turnbull Stakes.

Waller said the coronavirus pandemic will influence when the likes of Verry Elleegant are sent to Melbourne this spring carnival.

“Covid is going to have an impact on when we can send horses to Melbourne,’’ Waller said. “But our stable will be well represented in the Hill Stakes.’’

Kolding ran unplaced in the Stay Inside trial with Waller confirming the triple Group 1-winner will resume in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on August 7.

Waller’s highly-rated duo, Hungry Heart and She’s All Class ran last in their Randwick trials earlier in the week but neither was put under any pressure at this early stage of their campaigns.

Hungry Heart went out for a spell after reeling off successive wins in the Phar Lap Stakes, Vinery Stud Stakes and ATC Australian Oaks during autumn and Waller admitted he is unsure what the rising four-year-old mare’s ultimate aim will be in spring.

“What I liked about Hungry Heart in the autumn was not just her win in the Oaks, but also her two wins before that,’’ Waller said.

“Her win in the Phar Lap Stakes was sensational and then to run down Harmony Rose in the Vinery was also very good.

“She has come back really well and looks like she can take the next step but until you see them do it, you don’t really know.’’

Waller said Hungry Heart could be aimed for either the Cox Plate or Golden Eagle in spring.

She’s All Class showed a lot of promise in her juvenile season but Waller decided against giving her a taxing autumn campaign.

“We could have pushed onto the Golden Slipper with She’s All Class but we chose not to,’’ Waller said.

“I’m hoping she can measure up to the good fillies in the spring and who knows if she puts her ‘hand’ up for a start in The Everest.’’

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