An unraced two-year-old with close ties to two important winners for Chris Waller will provide a momentary Victoria Derby day distraction for the trainer.
Because he has eight runners in four of the biggest races at Flemington on Saturday, it’s no surprise Waller is the trainer most likely to land more than one Group One winner on a card long regarded as the best Australian racing can offer.
His Victoria Derby colt Preferment is an obvious danger to Hampton Court and Epsom Handicap winner He’s Your Man is pressing Criterion for Mackinnon Stakes favouritism.
Waller is also well represented with two Coolmore Stud Stakes starters as well as Catkins in the Myer Classic.
And while there is much to unfold during the four days of the Melbourne Cup carnival, Waller expects to learn something about his chances of winning next year’s Golden Slipper when Counterattack steps out at Rosehill.
Counterattack is a half-brother to Shellscrape and Red Tracer, Waller-trained Group One winners by Dane Shadow.
Being a colt by the champion sire Redoute’s Choice, Counterattack’s first start in the CFMEU/West Tradies Plate on Saturday will bring with it expectations he can race on with at least similar results to his siblings.
Counterattack makes an expeditious introduction to racing after winning a Rosehill barrier trial on Tuesday.
“If he is going to be an autumn carnival two-year-old I would expect him to run well,” Waller said.
“He is showing us plenty of ability and I want to give him this run and then turn him out.”
Waller said a preference to keep Counterattack in familiar surrounds, matched by his reluctance to wait for a Kensington track meeting at Randwick, convinced him to accept so close to a barrier trial.
“It’s easier to just walk him across the road and race him in an environment that is known to him,” the trainer said.
Counterattack is among four youngsters having their first start in the race and Godolphin’s newcomer Exosphere is the bookmakers’ early pick.
Exosphere showed enough natural speed in winning a Warwick Farm barrier trial on October 10 to be posted as an odds-on chance to give Godolphin successive Sydney two-year-old winners after Furnaces’ first-up success last week.
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