Damien Oliver’s willingness to make weight to ride Egg Tart in the Toorak Handicap offers the Chris Waller stable cause for optimism following the filly’s Sydney spring disappointment.
The veteran jockey was happy to ride lighter than usual at 53.5kg in one of three Group One miles on Saturday’s card at Caulfield after riding the dual Oaks winner on Tuesday.
“It’s obviously a weight Damien Oliver’s not exactly comfortable riding but there was a big push from him after the feel he received from her,” Waller’s racing manager Charlie Duckworth said.
“That’s a massive push from a world-class jockey and it fills everyone with a lot of confidence.”
A two-time Group One-winner as a filly, the four-year-old races for the first time since an eye irritation forced her out of the Group One Epsom Handicap (1600m) last month, a setback which also ruled her out of contesting the Caulfield Cup (2400m) next Saturday.
Egg Tart, who led the TAB market as the 18-strong field’s $6 favourite on Thursday, has settled in well to Melbourne for her first race in Victoria since she won the Auckland Racing Club Trophy (1600m) at Flemington on Anzac Day.
“Her work has been faultless through her preparation, despite her missing the Epsom,” Duckworth said.
Waller diverted Egg Tart to the Toorak after the Caulfield Cup plans went awry and the Cox Plate 2017 is potentially her next assignment, setting up a first clash with champion stablemate Winx at Moonee Valley on October 28.
“I know Winx is going there but it still doesn’t mean there’s not good prize money for second ($580,000),” Duckworth said.
“I realise it’s something the stable wouldn’t exactly be thrilled about it if we were to produce something to beat her, but if the owners want to take on the best mare in the world then good luck to them.”
Waller also Tom Melbourne, the $7 second elect plus $11 chances Comin’ Through, Omei Sword lining up.
Trained in Melbourne until his transfer to Waller, Tom Melbourne returns for his new stable after recording four consecutive second placings, including a half-length defeat to Happy Clapper in the Epsom.
“He’s been wounded by bad barriers and bad luck rather than his attitude,” Duckworth said.
“He’s crying out to win one of these big ones.”
Duckworth also labelled Omei Sword a Group One winner in waiting and said the mare who would relish the mile after taking on two shorter trips since returning from a bleeding attack.
Comin’ Through was hampered by a wide draw before finishing sixth in the Epsom and should benefit launching from gate four.