Coolmore leave door open for Eckstein to kick on after Winter Stakes triumph

Eckstein might be heading to the breeding barn soon but she is still has plenty of offer on the racetrack.

In fact, trainer Chris Waller hinted retirement plans might be put on hold temporarily for Eckstein after she scored a tough win in the Listed $150,000 Winter Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.

Waller said he will talk to the mare’s new owners, Coolmore Stud, and recommend they keep her in training for at least one more start.

“There is a similar race (Winter Challenge) here in two weeks that would suit her,’’ Waller said. “I said to the team after Eckstein was very unlucky (sixth) in the Tatt’s Tiara last start, where she drew wide, so I felt we should have another crack with her.

“It’s a great privilege to train for Coolmore and to have the owners here (Saturday) is a proud moment for me.’’

Coolmore’s Tom Magnier and Colm Santry were trackside for Eckstein’s Winter Stakes win and have kept the door open to the mare pushing on to the Listed $150,000 Winter Challenge (1500m) on July 27.

Magnier confirmed Eckstein will be covered by unbeaten American Triple Crown champion Justify at Coolmore’s Hunter Valley property this spring breeding season.

“But we will see how she pulls up and have a talk to Chris about keeping her going for another race,’’ Magnier said.

Coolmore purchased Eckstein for $750,000 at the Magic Millions Broodmare Sales two months ago and it seems an astute investment as the daughter of super sire I Am Invincible makes plenty of appeal as a broodmare prospect.

Eckstein ($7) improved her record to eight wins from 36 starts and boosted her prizemoney to $1.14 million when she edged out Gaulois ($5 favourite) by a head in a thrilling finish. Nicci’s Gold ($7.50) finished hard to third a further short head away, just in front of early clear Cradle Mountain.

Blake Shinn, who is leaving soon to take up a six-month riding stint in Hong Kong, rode his first stakes winner in the famous Coolmore navy blue colours.

“It’s a tremendous result because she has been knocking on the door for a win for a long time,’’ Shinn said. “Obviously, she was coming back in grade today but had to overcome difficulties, a wide barrier and a tough run but her Group 1 ability shown through.’’

Waller praised Eckstein’s former trainer Kurt Goldman for doing “a fantastic job” with the mare’s career before revealing he spent some time with Coolmore’s John Magnier and their trainer Aidan O’Brien in Ireland last month.

“I was fortunate to go out to Ballydoyle and watch how Aidan operates such a successful empire for Coolmore,’’ Waller said. “It’s a great privilege to be given these colours (Coolmore) and to train a horse like Eckstein.’’ – Ray Thomas, The Daily Telegraph.