If they were handing out a Nobel prize for training racehorses, Chris Waller would be at Winx-like odds to win it.
This is the opinion of owner Lloyd Williams, one of the most respected minds in Australian racing, who said the legendary Tommy Smith would have given Waller his seal of approval for his training and management of the champion mare.
In a revealing interview with The Daily Telegraph on Thursday, Williams was in awe of Winx’s outstanding eight-length Cox Plate romp last week but he preferred to talk more about the trainer than the mighty mare.
“Winx is very, very good,’’ Williams said. “But the most important thing I have noticed is the outstanding job Chris Waller has done with this mare.
“They keep talking about the horse but I want to talk about the trainer.
“When he took this horse to Brisbane as a three-year-old you could not have said it was outstanding. I would have said she was a 100-rater.
“But his management of Winx since has been absolutely outstanding.
“Chris Waller is a very nice bloke with everything he does but I think what he has done with that horse no one in this country could have done with her. I can’t give him the Nobel prize (for training) but if there was one I would give him something like that.’’
Winx has been unbeaten in 13 races since that Brisbane winter carnival campaign last year, culminating with her second successive Cox Plate last Saturday.
Williams has been involved with many outstanding racehorses over the years, including former Horse of the Year Mahogany, Reset, Gallic, Zipping, and his Melbourne Cup winners Just A Dash, What A Nuisance, Efficient and Green Moon, and has a thorough understanding of what is needed to develop a champion racehorse.
“I’ve been involved with training racehorses for a long time,’’ Williams said. “I have 55 years of experience, so I can appreciate what Chris has done with Winx and he gets 110 out of 100 from me. The champion horses tap you on the shoulder but you have to be smart enough to realise it and then manage it.
“My grand old friend TJ (Smith) would say this young bloke (Waller) has done a great job.’’
Williams and Waller will go head-to-head at Flemington on Saturday in the Group 1 $1 million Cantala Stakes (1600m) and again on Tuesday in the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The Williams-owned The United States is the $5.50 favourite on TAB Fixed Odds for the Cantala Stakes, while the Waller trio of Mackintosh ($9), McCreery ($11) and Good Project ($18) are among the leading chances.
The United States, a Group 1 winner of the Ranvet Stakes, was impressive winning the Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley last week and he doesn’t seem badly treated with equal topweight of 57kg. “He will run (Saturday) — and will run well, too,’’ Williams said of The United States.
“Steve Arnold will ride him nicely and he is the right sort of horse to go to Flemington.’’
The United States had a setback earlier in the spring and had a seven-week gap between runs before his Moonee Valley win.
“He will keep improving,’’ Williams said. “He could back him up again next week in the (Group 1 $2 million) Emirates (formerly Mackinnon) Stakes, then we might even take him to Hong Kong for the international meeting.’’
Williams is chasing a fifth Melbourne Cup on Tuesday and is likely to have four runners in the great race — Bondi Beach, Gallante, Almandin and Assign.
Bondi Beach and Almandin are on the third line of Cup betting at $11 behind Godolphin’s Hartnell ($4.20 favourite) and Caulfield Cup winner Jameka ($5.50). Williams’s other Cup hopefuls are Gallante and Assign at $51.
Waller is chasing his first Melbourne Cup with Grand Marshal and Who Shot Thebarman, who are both $26 chances.
Gallante, Almandin and Assign are being prepared at Williams’ private training complex at Mount Macedon, while the Aidan O’Brien-trained Bondi Beach is at the Werribee quarantine facility.
“I might go down (Friday) and have a look at Bondi Beach but he is coming along very well,’’ Williams said. “At this stage we are looking to have four runners in the Melbourne Cup.
“You live in hope in this game.’’ – Ray Thomas, The Daily Telegraph