The baker’s dozen of group 1s arrived for Chris Waller this season when Winx romped away with the Queensland Oaks on Saturday but she proved a rarity among the elite set.
Winx was at $2 favourite to make it 13 top-level wins for Waller, joining Sacred Falls in the George Main Stakes and Moriarty, which was equal top pick in the Kingston Town Stakes in Perth, to start favourite and win a group 1 for the top stable this season.
Waller continues to set new marks and has his share of big-race favourites but in some ways his achievements are underrated because of the number of runners he has. With hindsight, his group 1 winners always seem as though they must have been obvious, yet often they start at generous odds.
Waller will go to Doomben next Saturday with outstanding chances in the three group 1s.
Only two-year-olds Counterattack and Press Statement stand as possible favourites in the JJ Atkins from Waller’s team of half a dozen possible group 1 starters next weekend. He will decide on Monday whether Press Statement will run, while his assessment of Counterattack after his last run in the Sires was “I would have liked to see him finish a length closer”.
Waller has an ability to get his runners peaking on the big days.
Take Boban and Delectation in the Stradbroke. Boban is the last-start winner of the Doomben 10,000 and has four group 1s to his name and, despite being the top weight, is remarkably well-weighted given what he has done. Three-year-old Delectation was runner-up to Brazen Beau in the Coolmore Stud Stakes in the spring and should revel in the pressure of the Stradbroke.
But perhaps Waller’s best chance of a group 1 will be Sadler’s Lake in the Queensland Derby. It would a satisfying win for the trainer as it would be the cerise of Ingham racing. Waller last week prepared his 150th winner for the Inghams, who are among his biggest supporters, but he has never snared a group 1 for them.
Sadler’s Lake has been set for the Derby and his defeat in the Grand Prix came as favourite when he seemed to be a target for his rivals. He led and was under attack to get there. Jockey Blake Shinn believes he would be more effective when ridden with a sit and he won’t be a marked horse in the Derby.
Given the right run, the $10 available about Sadler’s Lake at the moment might seem a luxurious price come Saturday.