There is a reason why Chris Waller is the Australia’s leading trainer. It’s not just that he finds the best horses but he is prepared to innovate when the opportunity comes.
Waller will have three group 1 runners in the George Main Stakes at Randwick – Very Elleegant, Youngstar and Life Less Ordinary – and countless others preparing for major spring targets on Saturday, but his most interesting runner is Shared Ambition.
He will be the first of the European raiders to run in Australia this year in the Caulfield opener on Saturday. Shared Ambition is a three-year-old to European time, an age group that has been so successful in recent springs, and has won two of his three starts.
After being a Killarney winner in Ireland in July, it was a quick turnaround to get him on the first plane to come to Australia this spring and he comes out of quarantine on Saturday morning.
“We worked out he might be a horse that could be like Shraaoh from last year,” Waller said. “Racing Victoria have been good enough to provide the service to bring out horses early in the spring. I think it’s only fair that we repaid them and run him in Melbourne.”
Shraaoh was able to win the 2800m race on Melbourne Cup day last year and went on to become a Sydney Cup winner earlier this year, and Shared Ambition might be on a similar mission.
“He went into quarantine as a fit horse and we kept the training up to him. Ed Peate, who is very conditioner and works big yards over there, got Shraaoh ready for us and he did this bloke as well,” Waller said.
“He arrives ready to race. My idea in running him off the plane is that I believe they will have some down time at some stage. The longer they are here in Australia the more likely they to drop off and struggle.
“It will be good to get a run into him now and I think his class suggests he will be hard to beat.”
Waller is hoping for a turnaround from dual group 1 winner Verry Elleegant after she only beat one home in the Winx Stakes when resuming last month. He has put some time into her using techniques that helped Winx and other group 1 horses find their killer instinct.
The prospect of a wet track on Saturday certainly helps the chances of the four-year-old mare.
“She has won two-from-two on heavy tracks and has good soft track form as well. The track won’t worry her,” Waller said.
“I did have a good look at Happy Clapper and Avilius’s form and they good on it as well. There is no ducking cover or easy win there on Saturday.
“It will tell us whether she is on a Cox Plate or Caulfield Cup path or that second tier down path, which would be unfortunate.
“I think she will be fine. I want to see her do something on Saturday.”
Waller decided to stick to a mile with Youngstar because of the wet ground as he focuses her preparation on the Cups in Melbourne, while Life Less Ordinary is already a group 2 weight-for-age winner on a heavy surface. – Chris Roots, The Age.