Waller’s plan works a treat for Hungry Heart

Source : Racenet, by Ray Thomas

Hungry Heart enhanced trainer Chris Waller’s unique blueprint for success with three-year-old fillies when she ran down Harmony Rose in a Group 1 thriller at Rosehill Gardens.

Waller and jockey Kerrin McEvoy admitted they were worried Hungry Heart was conceding Harmony Rose too much start before she unleashed a powerful finishing surge to win the $500,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).

“It was a great win, it was a great race to watch,’’ Waller said.

“She was back a long way but at least they ran along quick so it gave the backmarkers their chance.

“But gee, with 300m to run I could see her making her run but it was starting to tell.

“There was a lot of ground to make up but the last 100m she really fought hard and got there quite well.”

Waller felt Hungry Heart’s last start win in the Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes was instrumental in the filly claiming a breakthrough Group 1 success.

“We backed ourselves going for the Phar Lap and thinking it might get some confidence back.

“I just cannot explain how much it does with horses, jockeys, people. No matter what sport you’re in, or even just everyday life what confidence does.

“I think that win last start was a big help, and to me today that last 100m she could’ve easily run second but she really stuck her head out and tried her guts out. So it was pretty brave.”

Waller has won six of the last seven Phar Lap Stakes and all with fillies starting with all-time Winx in 2015 and followed by Foxplay (2017), Unforgotten (2018), Verry Elleegant (2019), Funstar (2020) and now Hungry Heart.

All six fillies either won at Group 1 level either before or after their Phar Lap Stakes success with Hungry Heart keeping that extraordinary record intact.

Hungry Heart ($5.50) came from last and ran down early leader Harmony Rose ($2.30 favourite) near the line to win by a short neck with nearly three lengths to Impecunious ($15).

Waller said he was proud to win a Group 1 race with a daughter of English super horse Frankel with Hungry Heart giving the trainer the 121st big-race win of his career.

McEvoy rode the 68th Australian Group 1 win of his career – and the 78th in total – with his fast – finishing win on Hungry Heart.

“We wanted to try to be a bit closer but that was the only spot I could get comfortably,’’ McEvoy said after settling Hungry Hear at the rear of the field.

“The horses on my inside, I was watching how they jumped and I couldn’t do much more. If I had pushed forward early, I would have got her out of her comfort zone and one thing Chris said was to just have her comfortable.

“But I was worried the whole way. I said to myself at the 1000m, ‘stop worrying about that now, you’ve got the race to worry about’. They went a bit quicker and she picked up.

“I never had anything take me into the race, I had to pop out and do it on my own so full credit to her, she has battled it out well to run a strong 2000 for the first time and win a Group 1 so it’s great.’’

Waller said Hungry Heart is likely to be given her chance at 2400m in the Group 1 $1 million ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 17.

Since 2000, three fillies have completed the Vinery Stud Stakes-ATC Australian Oaks double – Verry Elleegant (2019), Heavenly Glow (2008) and Serenade Rose (2006).

Mark Newnham, trainer of the very game Harmony Rose, is looking forward to a rematch in the ATC Australian Oaks.

“Harmony Rose went great, probably just went a bit quick in front,’’ Newnham said.

“But they are two superior fillies and they beat the others out of sight.

“She was fantastic, just didn’t win – but we will go to the Oaks now.’’

Newnham was at a loss to explain Miravalle’s poor showing with the filly dropping out from the turn and finishing a long last.