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Chris Waller's best fillies from last season will chase Group 1 targets this spring

Verry Elleegant’s move to France has opened the door for a new queen of the Chris Waller stable and the champion trainer has a trio of likely candidates ready to step up to the plate.

Vinery Stud Stakes winner Fangirl, Surround Stakes winner Hinged and Group 1 winner-in-waiting Espiona make the transition from filly to mare this season and Waller has lofty ambitions for all three.

He is particularly keen to see Espiona land an elusive major after wet tracks cruelled her attempts in the autumn and he plans to keep her to sprint distances in a bid to achieve that goal.

“I’m going to keep to 1200 to 1400 metres with her and just feel my way,” Waller said.

“She will be ready to go early September and probably get to a race like the Golden Pendant late in September.

“I’m not sure if she will be ready for a race like the Rupert Clarke (Stakes), but I want to win a Group 1 with her and then we can start to get fancy.”

Both Fangirl and Hinged have taken the first steps towards their respective returns with Hinged finishing fourth to Hilal in a Rosehill barrier trial last week, while Fangirl was given a quiet hitout behind In The Congo at Randwick on Tuesday.

The duo is on a collision course towards the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m), a race that will be an important fork in the road.

With Australia’s weight-for-age ranks missing a few seasoned stars this year due a combination of injury, retirement and overseas adventures, Waller is keeping an open mind on testing the waters with the likes of Fangirl.

“I will see how strong the weight-for-age fields are, but the Epsom is the main goal early on and then we will progress from there,” Waller said of his plans for Fangirl.

“I’m very happy with her, I just hope we get some fine weather, for all the horses.

“Everybody did a great job to get through the autumn but bring on some nice weather.”

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