Thoroughbred racing’s most dominant figure says he believes the sport he loves has won back the respect of the community through its united and responsible approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an exclusive interview with Racing.com, Australasia’s premier trainer Chris Waller said such has been racing’s response to the potentially crippling effects of the pandemic, he feels the at-times besieged industry has managed to reach “a lost generation” and has shone during a most critical and anxious time for the country.
“With there being no other sport and no other social events for people to look forward to, racing has stood tall and I for one am extremely proud,” Waller said.
“It was getting free-to-air coverage during a massive world-wide problem and we have responsibly stayed within the guidelines with big carnivals in Sydney and Melbourne and gee, it’s come with a lot of respect.”
Waller said the reaction to racing’s continuation from people outside of racing’s bubble has surprised and heartened him.
“They are thinking ‘these people do know what they are doing, and they are putting on a responsible show’ and I feel bloody proud,” he said.
“There is so much more awareness of racing and people have often commented just how good it was to turn on the TV and to see the action and watch the stories unfold.
“I got it from so many people outside of racing and outside of sport.
“I think it really has put racing back into the thoughts of a lost generation of people for the right reasons.”
Waller has smashed training records seemingly at will over the past decade and has trained the best horse he and, most likely, everyone else will ever see in Winx, but the difficult journey over the past three months and more has shone a light on a new future.
Suddenly, his ultimate goal of long-term success has a worthy running partner.
“I don’t see getting the next Winx is the challenge,” he said.
“I think being an ambassador for the sport is a challenge that I want to be proud of and be remembered for and I think all trainers in this great industry should think along the same lines.
“We are aware of our limitations, certainly more so now than probably five or 10 years ago.
“That’s life after some pretty good horses and that’s put things into perspective.”
– Andrew Eddy, Racing.com