Source : Daily Telegraph by Ray Thomas
Champion trainer Chris Waller set a new benchmark after the win of So Wicked, which put the mare in a category of her own for the season.
There was a certain synergy about So Wicked giving trainer Chris Waller a career milestone at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
So Wicked became the only five-time city winner in Sydney for the 2020-21 season when she took out the ATC Thanks Frontline Workers Handicap (1800m).
Her win provided an exclamation mark on the dominant premiership-winning seasons of Waller and jockey James McDonald.
So Wicked also took the Waller stable’s win tally to 339½ for the 2020-21 season, breaking the trainer’s previous best of 339 wins set in 2018-19.
Waller, who waited until the final day of the season to achieve his personal best, was congratulated by McDonald after the race.
“Well done on your record,’’ McDonald said to Waller.
“Who would have thought So Wicked would win a Saturday race?
“But she was very good today, put herself into the race and was strong to the line.’’
Waller then informed McDonald that So Wicked’s tally of five Sydney wins for 2020-21 was the most by any horse this season.
“Really, that’s a great effort,’’ said an incredulous McDonald.
So Wicked has been racing mainly at the midweeks all season but has been a contributor to Waller’s stellar season.
She won more Sydney races this season than Waller’s stable champs Verry Elleegant and Hungry Heart (three wins each).
There were another nine horses on four city wins each for the season including So Wicked’s stablemates Mubariz, Kiku and Oscar Zulu.
Waller noted that So Wicked is by champion stallion Street Cry, who is also the sire of the trainer’s all-time great, Winx.
“If you look at Winx and So Wicked, they have the same type of action,’’ Waller said.
“It’s a strange action that Street Cry must put into his horses.’’
So Wicked even carries her head slightly to the left – just as Winx did during her famous 33-race winning streak that included a world record 25 Group 1 wins, earning more than $26.4m prizemoney.
There was some good news from Winx’s owners last week that the great mare has made a complete recovery after sadly losing her first foal, a filly by I Am Invincible last spring.
Winx’s ownership group are due to meet in the next two weeks to announce which stallion will serve her this spring breeding season.
This might be the only story that So Wicked ever gets mentioned in the same sentence as Winx but the former has proven a handy mare for her owners.
Her Randwick win was the seventh of her career and took her earnings to nearly $250,000.
“So Wicked is no superstar but to win five races in Sydney this season is not easy because the competition is so tough,’’ Waller said.
So Wicked ($5.50) finished powerfully to win by a widening margin of nearly three lengths from early leader Margie Bee ($21) with My Demetra ($7) running on for a close third.
Favourite La Chevalee ($2.90) didn’t show the same dash she did last start and struggled to finish only fifth.
So Wicked was McDonald’s 130th city winner for the season and he joins Darren Beadman and Larry Cassidy as the only jockeys in Sydney racing history to manage that feat.
Waller said it is easy to forget that McDonald – now a five-time Sydney premier jockey – is still only 29 years old.
“It is remarkable what James has achieved already in his career,’’ Waller said.
“But I honest believe there is improvement to come. He’s very mature for a man who is still so young and I would say his riding can only get better in the next five years.’’
So Wicked gave Waller his 168th Sydney winner for the season with the trainer claiming his 11th successive premiership – and by a record margin.
With 339½ wins on all tracks, he has claimed a fourth consecutive national premiership.
“We are proud of our season, it has been a great team effort,’’ Waller said.
“With Covid over the last 12 months it hasn’t been easy but I’m really proud of my time and results like this make it all worthwhile.’’
Picture: Getty Images
Chris Waller congratulates James McDonald after the win of So Wicked.