By Ray Hickson
It’s only a benchmark race but the hype and expectation around unbeaten three-year-old Vowmaster hasn’t been lost on trainer Chris Waller.
Two impressive Victorian wins in November and a recent six length Sydney barrier trial demolition mean there’s probably more punter interest in the Chandon Handicap (1100m) than on any other horse from the stable in Group races throughout Saturday’s Rosehill meeting.
Whether Waller ultimately waits for a race at Gosford on Wednesday or gives Vowmaster the assent to take his place at Rosehill remains to be seen but wherever he goes he’s going to be the centre of attention.
“There has been plenty of hype around him and it is disappointing to see him draw wide,’’ Waller said.
“He is certainly a promising horse going forward and obviously his two races in Melbourne were very good. His trial in Sydney was exceptional and his work since has been of a high standard.”
Vowmaster, $1.75 with TAB, was entered for a Listed race at Caulfield but as he didn’t draw to the stable’s liking there and he’s based in Sydney he’s staying put.
Waller said he hopes James McDonald can get a little bit of luck from the outside of the 13 horse field.
Vowmaster wins a trial at Rosehill on February 11
“I have found the 1100m start at Rosehill can suit those on-pace types so whether we use him up from his wide draw or take a sit with cover will depend on how he jumps,’’ he said.
The gelding holds a nomination for the Group 2 $1m Arrowfield Sprint (1200m) at The Star Championships in April where he’s currently $8 equal favourite with his Group 1 winning stablemate September Run.
Ex-Kiwi filly Only Words is also coming off back-to-back wins but she’s a despised outsider at $61 in the same race and Waller doesn’t appear to be expecting too much for her Sydney debut.
“This filly has won in New Zealand on a wet track and to my eye she is still settling in and likely to need a run or two to adjust to our style of racing,’’ he said.
“This is a good starting point from the soft draw and (with) the light weight and whatever she does on Saturday she will improve on.”
Home Affairs is considered one of Waller’s leading Golden Slipper chances and it seems there’ll be no excuses from the stable if he’s beaten in the Group 2 $250,000 Iron Jack Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m).
The colt looked all over a winner on debut in the Canonbury Stakes three weeks ago but on soft ground, with only one trial under his belt, he was reeled in by Zethus.
He was a $5.50 chance with TAB ($26 in the Golden Slipper) on Thursday while Zethus is $10.
“I put that defeat down to not only being beaten by a handy horse with race experience but he was a little vulnerable first up on a heavy track,’’ Waller said.
“He seems to have taken good benefit from the run, from both an experience and fitness perspective.
“He has drawn well on Saturday so he should get a lovely run and be very hard to beat.”