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Image: Steve Hart
Chris Waller is looking to the spring with renewed confidence with Espiona

Espiona hasn’t reached the heights expected of her this autumn, but trainer Chris Waller is adamant she is a Group 1 horse in the making.

The $2.25 favourite rounded out her campaign with a consolation win in Saturday’s James H B Carr Stakes (1400m) at Randwick, thumping her rivals by 4-1/2 lengths with Party Of One ($9.50) doing best of the chasers.

A natural backmarker, Espiona’s racing pattern has made it difficult for her to shine on the heavy tracks during the carnival and given the early anticipation, Waller admits it has been a rough ride for the filly’s connections and fans.

“She was the pin-up girl coming into the autumn and it’s heartbreaking for owners, punters, followers,” Waller said.

“I remember when we saddled her up the first day here at Randwick first-up, there was a crowd around her waiting to see who this horse was.

“And from one thing to another, there was no-one there watching her today. There were a couple of loyals, but in the spring, they will (all) be back.

“She should have won a Group One, but she will get her chance. She is very good.”

James McDonald settled Espiona within striking distance of the leaders and she strode up to join them at the top of the straight before lengthening stride and shooting clear.

Waller confirmed it would be the final run of her campaign and he was happy to send her to the paddock off a confidence-boosting win.

“It has been a tricky autumn for a lot of connections and horses,” Waller said.

“She has been ready to go every week, but it’s just been one rain shower after another.

“She came into the autumn having two race starts so she will go to the spring a pretty confident horse now and ready to bounce to the next level.”

McDonald said Espiona again didn’t relish the wet track but was a class above her opposition.

“She tracked up beautifully, when I did let her go,” McDonald said.

“She’s a filly that’s just crying out for good ground. She’s just getting away with it (being) a little bit better than them today.”

“She’s a topliner but she just needs certain things to go her way.”

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