By Ray Hickson
Champion trainer Chris Waller is getting behind the inaugural $7.5m Iron Jack Golden Eagle by declaring he will be trackside at Rosehill to cheer on Arcadia Queen and Kolding.
Waller says he is a proud 'westie' having been based at Rosehill since he made the move from New Zealand 19 years ago and hopes the race is something that can become a focal point for Sydney's west.
"I can't be everywhere and I decided with the inaugural running I wanted to throw my support behind Rosehill,'' Waller said.
"(The area) means a lot to me and it was one of the main ideas behind the race to support the Western side of Sydney which is probably the heart of Sydney.
"It is where I live and where I train so I think it is important that I am here.''
Having won the world’s richest race on turf, the TAB Everest, two weeks ago Waller considers he has two good chances to add Australia’s third richest race to his list of achievements.
Arcadia Queen holds favouritism with TAB at $2.90 on the back of outstanding Western Australian form and a first-up Group 2 Theo Marks win at Rosehill prior to her down the track effort in the Everest.
In Kolding, equal second elect at $5, he has a last start Group 1 winning handicap miler, who has won five of his six starts since being gelded, beating Te Akau Shark switching to a set weights race against his own age.
“I can't separate them, to my eye Kolding is a very good horse, he looks great and she does as well,’’ Waller said.
“Arcadia Queen has been a sensation and she has ratings to back that up. Kolding won a Group 1 race last start, that was his second time over the mile and 1500m is probably key for him as well.
“From where I sit they are equal. Kolding won an Epsom last start but that wasn't a one off, he's a very serious horse who continues to improve and I think he deserves respect.’’
Waller doesn’t underestimate the challenge both hoses face in the Golden Eagle so was pleased when his pair drew alongside each other and inside five.
He said that allows James McDonald (Arcadia Queen) and Glen Boss (Kolding) to allow both horses to run to their natural pattern and that’s a crucial element to have in your favour when it comes to beating the quality of horse that is lining up at Rosehill.
“I'm starting to come back to letting a horse be natural,’’ he said.
“If you try and do something different it takes them out of their comfort zone.
“A good barrier is not only important for yourself but if you maintain that draw it puts you in the spot where everyone else wants to be so they have to work harder to find their position.
“Utilising the gate without having a horse out of its comfort zone is key. It's a genuine Group 1 race and you have a good mixture of horses from around Australia.’’
Kolding wins the Epsom Handicap at Randwick on October 5
All eyes were on the Perth mare Arcadia Queen when she was sent to Waller by owner Bob Peters to target the Everest and Golden Eagle and she lived up to the hype with her first-up win.
Waller said he was disappointed with her finishing position in the Everest, second last, but in hindsight he feels she was kept too sharp and will be much better suited out to 1500m.
“While she jumped and held her position she couldn't sustain that sprint over 1200m when they ran track record time,’’ he said.
“I think she is getting out to a more suitable distance, 1500m will be perfect, we won't have to ride her too close but we won't be giving away our good barrier draw.’’
Ten per cent of the $7.5 million prizemoney will be distributed to charities selected by connections of all 16 runners. Arcadia Queen is supporting the Channel 7 Telethon Trust while Kolding’s charity is the National Jockeys Trust.