Chris Waller’s dominance of Saturday’s Chelmsford Stakes field begs an obvious question – is it healthy for Sydney racing?
A runaway winner of the past four Sydney trainers’ premierships, Waller has already produced more than double the amount of city winners than nearest rival Gai Waterhouse in a season that is just five weeks old.
On Saturday he will have 11 runners – almost three-quarters of the field – in the Group Two Chelmsford Stakes, a race he has won for the past three years and in which he trained the first six horses across the line 12 months ago.
The gathering of nine individual Group One winners from one stable in one race might be a record, but it is also reflective of a trainer at the peak of his powers.
But Waller says his numbers don’t necessarily make for a winning formula.
“They’re not all there for their grand final,” Waller said.
“I see the race as there being two genuine chances from my stable but a couple of horses there capable of an upset.
“There are a few horses almost ready to win, they just need a bit further, and four there that are genuine two-milers resuming.
“When you break the race down as simply as that, I don’t see it as us being there trying to take over the world with 11 genuine chances of winning the race.”
Waller sees the Chelmsford Stakes as a perfect starting point for his Cups horses – Preferment, Grand Marshal, Who Shot Thebarman and Opinion.
It also offers a suitable stepping stone for middle-distance weight-for-age horses like Doncaster Mile winner Kermadec and top mare Royal Descent.
Despite his numbers he has only two of the top four picks in betting with Godolphin’s Hartnell favourite and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Pornichet also well fancied.
Three of Waller’s runners – Junoob, Grand Marshal and Opinion – share the bottom of the betting barrel at $101.
Love or hate the empire Waller has built, his results speak for themselves.
And while meticulous, thoughtful and patient, the man who has become Australian racing’s benchmark also has a less serious side.
“I’m hoping the Chelmsford is a very strong form race when we look back on it,” Waller said.
“I hope a Cox Plate winner, Epsom winner, Melbourne Cup winner and a Caulfield Cup winner all come out of this race.”