By Brad Gray
Chris Waller is expecting big things from D’argento over the spring.
The flashy grey faces the unenviable task of taking on champion stablemate Winx in Saturday’s $500,000 Group One Winx Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick, but Waller admitted to giving it second thought. And maybe not for the reason you'd think.
“He is really well and has matured into a lovely colt. I questioned running him against her but then I thought about it and although he is a good horse, she has to go backwards to get beaten so I just see it as a very good starting point for D’argento," revealed Waller.
“He is stronger this time back, much more masculine. The parade watchers will say this horse has come back better.”
The four-year-old son of So You Think, who matched it with the likes of Kementari, Trapeze Artist and Pierata as a three-year-old, is currently the $8 favourite for the TAB Epsom Handicap but Waller is yet to nail down a preparation. The Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington is also the trainer’s radar.
“He’ll be running in Group Ones,” said Waller, “I want to prove him over the 1400m and mile distance as although he won the Rosehill Guineas he is a lot sharper than that. Now that he is mature, you’ll see that this preparation.”
“He probably should have won a Doncaster, even though it’s easy to say things like that now. In the Randwick Guineas he drew wide and had no luck. He is a good horse.”
Unforgotten also launches her spring on Saturday in the shadows of Winx. The last start ATC Oaks-winner was asked to chase Winx home on Thursday morning in her final serious track gallop ahead of her return. It was a spot once reserved for the now retired Foxplay.
“There have been a few horses follow her around,” said Waller, “If there is such a thing, we learn off great people and good mentors, so why can’t they?”
“She is good but is a hard horse to get a line on from her trials. We just don’t know where we are at in terms of her first up performances, but she is a dominant horse. Her win in the Phar Lap was brilliant and her Oaks win was fantastic.
“Where does she end up this preparation? I don’t know. The beauty of the spring is there are so many options. We’ll step her up to the mile second up and then work out where she is heading.”
Meanwhile, Fiesta resumes in the $200,000 Group Two Darley Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) with Waller eyeing off the Flight Stakes over the spring.
“She was a little but flat after her two-year-old year but the last three months have been spot on,” he said.
“I’ve left the blinkers off because we are looking at stretching her out to a mile so this is a good starting point on Saturday.”
On the topic of spring targets, Waller is hopeful of Kaonic progressing towards the Epsom Handicap, with the four-year-old to take another important step on Saturday.
“He is in the zone now for a colt and looks fantastic. I haven’t stepped him up in trip because I just want to keep him sharp so 1400m second up is probably a little bit questionable but with four weeks between runs, he is as good as we can have him," said Waller.
“He is raced by the same connections as Paret so we’d like to keep them apart from as long as we can but we’ll aim towards the Epsom but as soon as Kaonic suggest he wants further, we can easily go to 2000m.”
Of the rest of the stable’s runners, keep an eye on I Am Coldplay, with Waller indicating that the former New Zealand-trained mare has impressed in her work since her latest trial.