An unfashionable gelding with no stakes grade experience has given Chris Waller one of the most satisfying wins of his training career.
Mutarakem racked up a record 170th Sydney metropolitan win for the state’s premier trainer and, fittingly, Hugh Bowman was in the saddle to share the achievement.
In just his second race back from a post-Japan break, Bowman guided Mutarakem to a six-length victory in Wednesday’s #theraces Handicap (1900m), a dramatic improvement after the five-year-old was off the pace in his two previous starts.
Mutarakem’s triumph does not compare with the achievements of his champion stablemate Winx, but Waller insisted the win was just as cherished after eclipsing his previous season best set in 2015/16.
“Whether it’s a midweek at Canterbury or a big Group One race we still get the same kick out of it this far into the season,” Waller said.
“Every day is important to me. I bounce out of bed whether it’s Championships morning or whether it be Monday morning after a tough weekend.
“There’s always something to look forward to when you’ve got a big stable, whether it’s an up-and-coming horse through the winter or Winx.”
Waller paid tribute to his personnel after Mutarakem ($9.50) left minor placegetters Regine ($3.60) and Lifeline Princess ($11) in his wake.
“Thanks to all my staff for what they do to get these horses ready week in, week out,” he said.
“This horse is a good example. He raced Saturday. He gets plenty of looking after at home and then I turn up at the races and get presented with these beautiful horses.”
While it was appropriate Bowman was party to the accolade given his association with Winx, Waller spread the kudos among the jockeys’ room and behind the scenes track work riders.
He also reiterated his respect for the trainers that preceded him as the standard bearers of Sydney racing.
“I don’t have as much respect for Chris Waller as I do for Gai Waterhouse and Tommy Smith and I hope it stays that way,” he said.
“I’ve also got respect for the position I’m in to be able to train winners. Not many people can do it.”
Waller, who recorded 300 winners nationwide for the first time last Saturday, said he never proposed a numerical goal at the start of a season.
“I don’t set a number. I set a high benchmark of making sure we have good representation Wednesdays and Saturdays,” he said.
Waller laughed off suggestions a target of 200 Sydney metro winners was possible with 11 meetings remaining.
“Not this year,” he said.