Waller the wizard strengthens his grip on Sydney with eighth crown

The numbers are staggering — an eighth successive Sydney trainers’ premiership with an all-time record 189 city wins, nearly 340 race wins nationwide, 13 Group 1 successes and stable earnings of more than $34 million.

This has been some 12 months for Chris Waller who capped his record-breaking 2017-18 season with four winners including Mister Sea Wolf in the Listed $150,000 Winter Challenge (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.

The Hall of Fame trainer has been the most powerful force in Sydney and Australian racing for most of this decade — and he seems to getting even more dominant.

Waller said the competitive nature of Sydney racing ensured he could not rest on his laurels.

“You need to perform 52 weeks a year, that’s Sydney racing for you,’’ Waller said.

“I think that is what makes Sydney racing so good. There are harsh critics and good judges out there and they expect to you to be at a high level, week in, week out.

“I respect that and it does create good trainers, great jockeys, and good punters who like betting on our races. I’m proud to be a trainer here.’’

Waller’s 189 Sydney wins broke the record of 169 wins he set three years ago while the 13 Group 1 winners he trained ensured he claimed the national Group 1 premiership for an unprecedented sixth consecutive season.

“I would not have thought training 180-odd winners in Sydney was possible 10 years ago,’’ he admitted.

“But I’m always thinking about (improving) things and I feel opening up a Gold Coast stable has had a big impact on our season.

“Some might think it would detract from our Sydney sable but I think it has helped us get more horses into the stable fit and well.

“To have the stables in Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast working so well has been a big bonus.’’

The final Sydney meeting of the 2017-18 season turned into a celebration for the Waller stable with Mister Sea Wolf’s Winter Challenge win complementing the earlier successes of stablemates Huangshan, Raqeeq and Paret.

English import Mister Sea Wolf ($9.50) scored his first Australian win when aided by a brilliant Jason Collett ride, wearing down Flow ($9) to win narrowly with the ever-consistent Special Missile ($8) more than two lengths away third.

“It was actually pretty easy in the end,’’ Collett said.

“We had the barrier (four) today and at the 600m I had plenty under me. I just had to be patient.’’

Waller said Mister Sea Wolf would be entered for the Epsom Handicap but believes the gelding’s best chance of being competitive at Group 1 level could be interstate.

“I would say Mister Sea Wolf is a Group 3 horse but if we get his confidence up he might be a Perth carnival horse over summer,’’ he said.

“His first run in Australia was very good and I genuinely thought he was a lightweight Doncaster horse but he was disappointing that day.

“I though today was the right time to try the blinkers and it was a very good ride by Jason (Collett).’’

Waller indicated Mister Sea Wolf is likely to race next in the Premiers’ Cup (1900m) later next month.

Invinzabeel, a stablemate of the winner, was sent out $3.70 favourite but after appearing to have every chance, laboured into fifth placing, more than three lengths behind the winner. – Ray Thomas, The Daily Telegraph