Chris Waller turned the Winter Challenge into the Waller Challenge as Sydney’s leading trainer prepared the first three horses home in the listed feature – and then let his jockeys squabble over the placings in the stewards room.
Premiership-winning duo Waller and jockey James McDonald combined for a trouble-free win with French import He’s Your Man, which sped home down the centre of the track for his first Australian victory.
But the riders of the minor placegetters – Jason Collett on Coup Ay Tee and Tye Angland on I’m Imposing – fought over the minor money after Collett shoved his way through a paper-thin opening to be second over the line.
Stewards deemed Collett took a narrow split between Queenstown and Disclaimer at the 300-metre mark which was I’m Imposing’s rightful run as the grand nine-year-old eventually weaved between runners to finish a long head adrift of his stablemate.
The placings were swiftly amended with I’m Imposing ($7.50) elevated to second and Coup Ay Tee ($18) third.
“I don’t think I should say anything in this instance,” said Waller, who clearly indicated Collett’s ride had him with his “heart in his mouth”. “Clearly there’s some interference.”
Collett argued Tim Clark rolled out on Grafton Cup winner Queenstown in the straight, but he was quickly put back in his place by his older rival.
“He [Angland] is waiting for a run to eventuate and you [Collett] try to push through one when there wasn’t one,” Clark told Collett.
It did little to take away from the ease of He’s Your Man’s ($5) win. The six-year-old is owned by some of the same interests as Waller’s former group 1 winner Reliable Man.
He’s Your Man showed similar acceleration in putting away a handy Winter Challenge field, but will be geared towards The Metropolitan during the Sydney carnival.
“I’d say The Metropolitan would be a perfect race for him,” said Waller, who scored a race-to-race double with the resuming Murder Of Crows 40 minutes later. “It’s good to see that turn of foot and that will be competitive in lead-up races.
“There’s lots of races for him in the lead-up to the Metrop and there’s other horses we can take to Melbourne for races like the Naturalism, and obviously we’ve got our weight-for-age horses.
“He’ll have four weeks between runs [Premier’s Cup] and we’ll keep him nice and fresh and sharp. He’s building a nice foundation for a good spring and he showed [Saturday] he’s got a bit of class winning over probably an unsuitable distance.”
He’s Your Man had not raced since an fast-closing third behind Generalife in the Civic Stakes a month ago, but never looked like being beaten after McDonald gave him a beautiful ride.