Chris Waller won his first group 1 race with a horse other than Winx in more than a year as filly Foxplay beat her older rivals in the $1 million major at Randwick on Saturday.
Despite Winx capping another unbeaten season with a romp in the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes barely an hour earlier, Waller would have walked out of headquarters with arguably a bigger smile thanks to the deeds of Foxplay, who generated barely a second glance when she was paraded alongside her highly publicised stablemate at a media call on Thursday.
Kerrin McEvoy boldly trekked wide but close to the speed on Denise Martin’s Star Thoroughbred’s purchase and had enough in the tank to stave off the challenge of Zanbagh with Dixie Blossoms back in third.
“She has been a very special horse to us. We call her ‘the Winx junior’ but there are lots of similarities,” Waller said. “She started off with a winning bang and has sort of been a little bit forgotten, had a few hard-luck stories go against her and funnily enough has run in the same races as Winx.
“Winx didn’t win the Oaks and I decided not to run this filly in the Oaks because I still think she has some brilliance and speed, so fortunately we got away with it.”
Zanbagh burst out of the pack late but couldn’t get closer than half-a-length from Foxplay, who added a major to her resume following earlier black-type success.
It was also a huge boost for Waller and his primary syndicator, who defected to Australia’s leading group 1 trainer after a long and successful association with Gai Waterhouse. “Denise [Martin] is unbelievable, she has been the most supportive person you could imagine. She has a great business and she has brought a lot of people to us,” Waller said. “She just looks after them like you wouldn’t believe.” – Adam Pengilly