Higher and higher for Kepitis as Waller quinellas Frank Packer Plate

The “Winx connection” of owner Debbie Kepitis and trainer Chris Waller didn’t need the great mare to enjoy more big-race success at Royal Randwick.

Higher Ground, with his rider Glyn Schofield wearing Kepitis’s colours of purple and white hoops, led home a Waller stable quinella in the Group 3 $150,000 Frank Packer Plate (2000m).

Kepitis has been in the ownership of so many big-race winners over the years including mighty mare Winx but Higher Ground is her first Sydney stakeswinner in her Woppit Bloodstock colours.

In a finish which had everyone guessing, Higher Ground ($5.50) scored by a nose from Tangled ($6) with Holy Snow ($3.90) a half length away third.

Waller said Higher Ground and Tangled are now on the Derby trail but in separate states.

“Higher Ground will go to the Queensland Derby and Tangled might go to the South Australian Derby,’’ Waller said.

“That’s the beauty of racing in Australia because 52 weeks of the year we race on pretty good tracks and there’s a lot of options.

“If you are not there in the spring there’s the autumn and other options, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia. You name it. It’s a pretty good country to be training racehorses.’’

Higher Ground scored his fourth win from just eight starts and the son of former champion So You Think is destined for betting things.

“I like them,’’ Waller said when asked about training the progeny of So You Think. “They suit my style of training.

“So You Think was a deadset superstar and to get some of his progeny is pretty special.

“A big key to a horse’s longevity is not pushing them early and, as you can see, they start developing later in life.’’

Schofield also has a good opinion of Higher Ground’s emerging staying potential and was relieved when the photo finish verdict went his way.

“I’m glad the photo doesn’t lie, I wasn’t sure if I had won but he’s taken a big step today,’’ Schofield said.

“Obviously Chris [Waller] has had some plans with him for some time, it was nice for him to show a bit of fight and get there.

“I thought when he changed his legs 100m from home he was just going to surge to the lead and run away from them, but the second horse obviously has Group 1 form and it’s hard to get away from those horses who have performed well at the top level.” – Ray Thomas, The Daily Telegraph.

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