Chris Waller is known for planning and precision but it was a change of option that delivered another group 1 victory as He’s Your Man completed a long-range plunge in the Epsom Handicap at Randwick on Saturday.
As much as $51 was bet after his Kingston Town Stakes win three weeks ago, when Waller was considering The Metropolitan or the Turnbull Stakes as his next start.
“We are still learning about him and I do like dropping horses back from 2000 metres to the mile,” Waller said. “If he went to the Metrop and got beaten that would have been it, so this option gave him the chance at multiple grand finals, which is another thing I like to do.”
Once Waller decided on the Epsom but had to find a jockey and he got lightweight Hong Kong-based Brazilian Joao “Magic Man” Moreira to do the job. He had already won on Hampton Court and Brazen Beau earlier in the day but it took all his vigour to get his first Australian group 1 victory.
It took to the final stride for He’s Your Man to grab stablemate Royal Descent to win by a nose, while Hooked was 1-1/2 lengths back third. The photo took a few minutes to come through and it was hard not to feel for Royal Descent, which has run second in two Epsoms, a Doncaster and George Main Stakes over the Randwick mile.
“It is a great result, but I feel for Royal Descent’s connections and for her, but we won’t tell her she didn’t win,” Waller said. “She’s a winner in my eyes and she’s going to get her chance in the Cox Plate. She had a big weight today and it’s a hard thing for a mare to carry and she almost got there.
“Sunline ran fourth in this race and went on to win the Cox Plate. The winner could go to a race like the Mackinnon, we know now he is a very good miler and I think he is still well in the handicaps, and there is a race called the Doncaster next year.”
Moreira did not think he had done enough on the line and turned to Hugh Bowman, who had given Royal Descent the prefect ride, to say well done.
“He said to me ‘you won’,” Moreira said. “I have wanted to win a group 1 over here and it was great to finally get it. He is a pretty good horse because when I got him out in the clear he just went and we hadn’t had an easy run.
“I didn’t think he could get the other horse but he did it. I actually got buffered in the back straight and lost two lengths and I thought that might have taken a bit out of him. I got cover and when he got in the clear there was plenty there.”
Bowman could have done no more on Royal Descent.
“It was disappointing not to win but I was delighted with her effort,” he said. “She had her chance but the horse with the pull in the weights was just too good today.”
John Thompson was pleased with the game effort of Hooked after he was trapped three and four wide without cover. It was an immediate return for Sean Buckley, who paid $600,000 for the Casino Prince entire on Wednesday, and he has the rest of the spring to look forward to.
“He ran well and the barrier  probably didn’t help us, but he’s run well and that’s all we can ask us,” Thompson said. “He’ll go to Melbourne. I don’t know what’s next, but he’ll go to the Emirates and then probably to the Railway [Stakes in Perth].”