TRAINER Chris Waller’s decision to split his staying strike force provided the stable with two wins at separate venues less than 15 minutes apart on Saturday.
Waller had four starters in the Schweppes Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens and secured a stable quinella when Reigning burst through the pack to edge out Bagman near the line.
Then minutes later, Danchai, the ghostly grey Waller had withdrawn from the Rosehill race and sent interstate, scored a narrow win in the Listed $175,000 Ipswich Cup (2150m).
Waller wasn’t at Rosehill Gardens as he is in England for Brazen Beau’s Royal Ascot campaign this week but he was still omnipresent on Saturday as he is also the trainer of Black Jag, winner of the Banjo Paterson Series Heat (2500m) at Flemington.
Liam Prior, Waller’s Sydney stable representative, said Reigning’s win was in part due to a brilliant Brenton Avdulla ride.
“It was a lovely, patient effort by Brenton and he got there in the last bound,’’ Prior said. “This is the right time of year for Reigning to pick up some good prizemoney.
“He likes the soft tracks and with the pace being solid today, it suited him. When the gap came he attacked the line strongly.’’
Reigning ($9.50) was with the tailenders into the straight before Avdulla weaved between runners to score narrowly in a thrilling finish.
There was only a head separating Reigning and his stablemate Bagman ($13) with Dream Folk ($51) finishing fast for third, a nose away.
Avdulla’s never-say-die attitude enabled Reigning to win a race where he never seemed likely to take out the major prize.
“I wasn’t going to beat them going around them on the turn,’’ Avdulla said. “But I felt if things go my way, if the gaps come, he could still win the race.
“A couple of the boys knew where I was and were riding tight but to this horse’s credit, when I got down to ride him out he quickened really well.’’
Prior said Reigning could join the likes of Bagman and Trade Commissioner (sixth) on a Grafton Cup preparation.
Favourite Ecuador eased from $2.90 to $3.90 on track but after enjoying the run of the race he was swamped late to run fourth.
Jockey Danny Beasley said there were no excuses for Ecuador’s defeat.
“He had the 60.5kg and that told in the last 100m,’’ Beasley said. “We had a nice run in behind the lead and I thought at the turn he was going like a winner.
“He hit the front but couldn’t sprint away under his big weight. I’d say if he had 58kg like he had last start he would have won.’’
Meanwhile, Prior said he had spoken to Waller on Saturday and the trainer is delighted with Brazen Beau’s preparation for the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot next Saturday.
“Chris said he is very happy with Brazen Beau, the colt is fit and well,’’ Prior said. “The weather forecast is good but he might accept with Brazen Beau for the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday just in case.’’