Chris Waller is eyeing off the spring’s big five races, worth a combined $40 million, after an unprecedented four group 1 wins on Saturday.
The trainer of Winx on Saturday had his best day outside taking the champion mare to the races with eight winners – six at Randwick and a double at Flemington including a sweep of the group 1s. He only had runners in nine races across the two racing capitals.
When Winx retired, it left a massive hole in Australian racing and Waller’s stable but he could soon have winners of the Caulfield Cup, The Everest, Cox Plate, Golden Eagle and Melbourne Cup in his stable.
“It was one of those things you can’t plan, you can’t expect to happen,” Waller said of his Saturday haul on Sky Sports Radio.
“I wouldn’t say it was like a dream … it was like something you would never expect but it did happen.
“With our horses they are expected to peak at about their third or fourth run and then hold their form and that was the case with them [on Saturday].”
That seems like a warning for other stable that the Waller blitz is just beginning. Funstar, Kolding, Kings Will Dream and Come Play With Me were all first-time group 1 winners on Saturday while stayers like Verry Elleegant and Finche showed they were on track for the Cups.
While it’s impossible to return to the heights to which Winx took Waller and his staff, Saturday was a day to savour. Furthermore, Waller is driven by success and would love to add his group 1 collection, particularly in races like The Everest and Melbourne Cup which he is yet to win.
“The Melbourne Cup is the race you dream about as a kid but The Everest is another challenge,” he said.
Lee Freedman was the last trainer to prepare the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup winners in the same year in 1992 with Mannerism, Super Impose and Subzero. The Melbourne trinity has now been joined by the $14 million The Everest and the $7.5 million Golden Eagle.
The Waller train will continue at full stream in the next couple of weeks, starting with Kubrick in Saturday’s Caulfield Guineas and Night’s Watch and Tom Melbourne in the Toorak Handicap.
But most eyes are focussed on the biggest prizes of the spring. Waller will have multiple runners in each of the richest races and at the moment has the favourite for the Caulfield Cup, Golden Eagle and Melbourne Cup.
West Australian star Arcadia Queen, which is Golden Eagle favourite, has a slot in The Everest and could be joined by Yes Yes Yes or Nature Strip if Waller decides to have runner from his stable in his slot.
“I have Arcadia Queen ready to go for it,” Waller said of The Everest. “I probably just added Brutal to the list [for my slot on Saturday].
“Godolphin have got to make a decision with what they have got. We have Yes Yes Yes there if we want to run him against the older horses. His form is as good as it needs to be to run against the older horses.
“Of course, we have trusty old Nature Strip in great form and there as a back-up if we thought we were struggling with others.
“We’ll have to talk to our owners and the owners of the horses and make a decision early in the week.”
Waller will decide in coming days which of Turnbull Stakes top two, Kings Will Dream and Finche, and Hill Stakes winner Verry Elleegant will contest the Caulfield Cup. Each of them could go to a Cox Plate.
He said Finche, at the top of the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup markets, was the most talked about horse in his stable.
“I guess, the 2400m Caulfield Cup [is next] and then onto the Melbourne Cup,” Waller said of the fourth placegetter from the Melbourne Cup last year.
“He’s like a big, lanky basketballer. He’s getting plenty of attention with his racing style and the heart that he’s putting into his racing.”
Waller has a decision to make with four-year-old Epsom winner Kolding, which has the option of stepping out to the Cox Plate or chasing the money of the Golden Eagle, for which he is second favourite.
“The obvious target would be the Cox Plate, going on the experience we have had coming out of the Epsom. But when you have the Golden Eagle the following week with $7.5 million we have to seriously consider that,” Waller said.
“We have consider where our horses are as a team. We can split them up to make sure racing is the winner overall.” – Chris Roots, Sydney Morning Herald.