By Brad Gray
Chris Waller, like racing fans worldwide, is counting down the hours to the $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick tomorrow.
“It’s a little bit like a child waiting for Christmas, (the race) just seems to never come,” Waller said. “She has already had three races this preparation but this is the race we’ve has been building towards since she won the Cox Plate in the spring. It’s The Championships where all the best horses get together.
“What Winx has shown us is a whole new level of racing intensity and if you can get used to it, we’re starting to.
“Everything has gone to plan and we couldn’t be happier going into Saturday. She’s just an amazing horse.
Bowman and Waller discuss Winx
Winx chases her 17th straight victory and is priced $1.08 with TAB but it’s not in Waller’s nature to take anything for granted and he again acknowledged the class of Winx’s rivals.
“You’ve got to respect all horses on a racetrack, regardless of the race but this is theQueen Elizabeth. It’s the grand finale of the autumn and you’ve got to respect some very serious challengers. You just never know where the next good horse is coming from.”
It was advised by the stable that Winx would race with synthetic hoof filler applied to her off fore hoof but Waller reiterated that it was no cause for concern and simply a precaution.
“In human terms, she has had her nails strengthened. There is no hole or problem it’s just simply a filler over a small portion, probably about 10 percent, of the hoof,” explained Waller.
“It gives the farrier a good quality wall to hold the shoes in place. We’re doing everything we can to make sure she is in pristine condition for the big event.”
Winx in her exhibition gallop last Saturday
Meanwhile, Waller has a team of three heading into the Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) and singled out veteran stayer Who Shot Thebarman as “the benchmark” of the trio.
“He has been placed in the race twice, is a Group One winner over two miles (Auckland Cup) and ran fifth in Melbourne Cup six months ago,” Waller recalled.
“His run in The BMW was fantastic. He got too far back with the way the race was run but he has drawn to settle closer on Saturday so it would be nice to see on him midfield.
“Libran ran second in this race last year but had a long break and those horses need time to recapture their form. The distance won’t be a problem and in two mile races you can often throw the shorter race form out the window.
“Kinema needs tempo in his races to settle and when he settles he is a much better horse than what we’ve seen. We’ll give Tim Clark the option to roll forward if he needs to.”
Foxplay and Elle Lou in the Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) round out the stable’s runners on Day 2 of The Championships with Waller having no concerns about Foxplay coming back to the mile.
“I see it as a positive especially over the Randwick mile against the mares,” said Waller.
“She galloped behind Winx (on Thursday morning) to keep her ticking over and instead of going a hard gallop she had a 90% gallop. It’s an easy way to train because the horse is fit and just needs maintenance and they tend to thrive when you back off their work.
“Being by Foxwedge, her pedigree suggests she could struggle in the Oaks and I’d rather find that out in Queensland. She has got a chance to run in another Group One and this gives us the option of having for a few more runs for the owners. If she went to the Oaks and failed she would be going for a holiday.”
As for Elle Lou, there is a case to be made for her at big odds given her Randwick record and love of soft ground.
“The track is no problem and she has won at the mile. She should be able to settle midfield.”