Staying capacity comes to the fore in Sydney Cup

Source: Racenet, by Matt Jones

Selino’s staying ability shone through as he defied the odds to win the Sydney Cup for champion trainer Chris Waller who never lost faith in his ability to win a big race.

The European import came to Australia with a 3328m win on a synthetic track at Wolverhampton in England and had a great grounding for the Sydney Cup but punters wrote him off.

He was sent out a $26 chance under Ron Stewart who rode the race of his life for the biggest win of his career.

The five-year-old had been running on over shorter trips but his eight-length fourth behind Quick Thinker a run earlier turned punters off.

Waller said while punters didn’t have confidence in Selino, he wasn’t giving up on his horse.

“He was sent to me in very good form. They (the owners) might have lost a bit of confidence in me when they saw him going around and running in 2000m races, 2600m races,” Waller said.

“But we’ve said all along, stick to the confidence of running in this race. He’s an extreme distance horse and he certainly showed it today.”

The owners were also wondering pre-race about Waller’s booking of Stewart.

“The owners questioned me on who he was and things like that and I said ‘well, he was an apprentice here in Sydney don’t worry’,” he said.

“He rode successfully in Singapore, he’s riding well in Queensland. He’s a fit jockey and I see he’s got his helicopter pilot’s license so he must have a few brains.

“He’s a beautiful young man. I remember Ronnie was an apprentice here in Sydney, I was cutting my teeth the same time as him. I was rapt to give him the opportunity, a natural lightweight rider, he works hard and he was the right man for the job.”

Stewart was back to where it all began and was riding higher than his horse after the big win.

“I’ve done a lot of riding here as a kid, then went overseas. I’ve never really thought about coming back here but I got a phone call from Richie Callander, he used to help us out a bit in my apprentice days, and he put my name forward to do some work for Chris Waller in Queensland. Lucky I can ride light and I picked up this ride,” he said.

The 37-year-old former Sydney champion apprentice, now based in Brisbane, is a natural lightweight rider and walks around at about 52kg so riding 50kg yesterday was easy.

Stewart said it wasn’t all easy sailing in the run but he made his move at the right time before entering the home straight and put his horse into clear air at the top of the straight.

“He was a tough ride but it kept unfolding nicely for us. It certainly wasn’t easy, he was quite strong throughout, but I could see that in his replays, he has done that in the past, but when I pulled out down the side with about 1000m to go I still had plenty of horse there,” he said.

“I thought okay we have no weight on our back, catch me if you can.

“Knowing Randwick really well I was a bit concerned that I had got going a little bit early especially sliding up that rise but I had so much horse under me with the light load.

“The horse was coming doggedly that last 50m, I wouldn’t say I held my breath but I was yelling as loud as I could, and at the end of the day we got the job done.”

Rondinella was brave again to run second like she did the run before in the Chairman’s.

Jockey Andrew Adkins said his mare gave her all as she chased the winner to within 1¼ lengths.

“Huge effort. Beaten by a better one on the day but she hit the line exceptionally well,” he said.