Waller claims Phar Lap Stakes again

Source: Racing.com, by Carl Di Lorio

Chris Waller improved his incredible record in the Phar Lap Stakes with fillies when Hungry Heart won the Group 2 three-year-old race over 1500 metres at Rosehill on Saturday.

Ridden by James McDonald, Hungry Heart ($3.70) settled towards the rear of the eight-horse field and overran The Irishman ($5.50) – who had briefly skipped clear on straightening from the box-seat – to score by a long neck, with Impecunious ($8) doing her best work late for third, a further 1.5 lengths away.

Hungry Heart became the sixth Waller-trained filly to win the Phar Lap in seven years, joining Winx (2015), Foxplay (2017), Unforgotten (2018), Verry Elleegant (2019) and Funstar (2020).

Each of Waller’s past Phar Lap winners have won at Group 1 level, and success at the elite level has thus far eluded Hungry Heart, the beaten favourite in last October’s G1 Flight Stakes and G1 Thousand Guineas over 1600m.

Hungry Heart, a daughter of Frankel purchased for $300,000 from the Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale, commenced this campaign with unplaced runs in the G2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) and G1 Surround Stakes (1400m) before winning her second race from 10 starts in the Phar Lap.

“It’s been a good race for getting the confidence back of horses, there’s no bigger name than Winx,” Waller said.

“Three-year-old fillies just lack a little bit of confidence when they come back in the autumn, things change, others’ horses grow and develop and it’s just a bit tougher.

“I know the owners expect results every time these horses go out. We haven’t lost faith with her, and we’ve just stuck to the task.

“First-up (in the Light Fingers), I think it was a wet track, barrier draw, she was three and four wide. Second-up (in the Surround Stakes), barrier draw on a day that favoured on-pace runners. Today we just let her be her and she did it well.”

Upon dismounting, McDonald described having a ‘love-hate relationship’ with Hungry Heart.

“I have been a little bit frustrated obviously, I’ve given her some not-so good rides, and then she’s put in a couple of ordinary performances,” McDonald said.

“It wasn’t all smooth sailing today. I was hoping to be a bit more positive in the run. Sometimes she begins and sometimes she doesn’t. She’s very quirky and today she didn’t want to, but she got into a lovely rhythm from there.”

Hungry Heart will strive for G1 success again at her next start in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) for three-year-old fillies at Rosehill on March 27, when she’ll clash again with Impecunious.