Chris Waller had a short, simple reason for his visit to Sandown, aka Ladbrokes Park – he loves horse racing.
Parking that unquestioned love affair to one side, Waller’s trip to the track, his first since Pressday won the 2010 Sandown Guineas proved successful, illuminating, informative as well as character-building.
Waller won a race – his first Melbourne city winner sinner since Encosta Line at Sandown on November 16 – gained a greater appreciation of the ability of some of his stable, re-acquainted himself with the testing uphill home straight and gained an understanding of the state of the track.
With racing in his home state consigned to Wyong, Waller took the opportunity to take a first-hand look at his six horses engaged at the meeting. Waller saw his Northern Meteor mare Aurora Glow, a $140,000 purchase at the 2014 Magic Millions on the Gold Coast, win the Le Pine Funerals Handicap, but he also gleaned much, much more.
Waller candidly admitted he had found it “very frustrating” watching from a television screen at a Sydney racetrack or at home as his horses didn’t appear to be racing as well as he’d expected. But, watching on TV can paint a misleading picture, he admitted. Nothing beats being trackside even if the outcome, sometimes, isn’t what you would wish.
Waller, typically, pulled no punches as he discovered some of his stable was not as good as he’d previously thought.
“By being here today and seeing them personally, you can see they are not good enough,” Waller said.
“Instead of getting frustrated with my training methods or what is not working you come down here and you see it first hand.
“You see everything is going fine. The horses have to be good enough to win races and you can see that first hand, but behind that (TV) screen you make excuses and you give the horses chance after chance after chance.
“It has been a refreshing day.”
Among the other things that Waller took away from the trip to Sandown is the enormity of the uphill gradient in the home straight. Waller noted that several of his beaten horses today surged from the 350 to the 150 metres, but that effort took its toll and they didn’t figure when it mattered most.
Waller is also mindful of the seemingly never-ending discussion about the state of the Victorian metropolitan tracks.
“I’m not complaining. I just want to know first hand how hard they are,” said Waller, who walked the track.
“There is not much room for error. The tracks down here dry so well. If they haven’t got that moisture in them at the start of the day, it’s a long days racing,” he said
“I’ve noticed horses that have jarred up. It’s not perfect, but again, are