A mixture of the obvious and the curious will accompany Chris Waller’s bid for a fifth Chipping Norton Stakes win.
In Winx, Waller has Australia’s best thoroughbred ready to take another step closer to Horse of the Year honours as she lines up as a prohibitive favourite in the Group One race at Randwick on Saturday.
And while he doesn’t expect Storm The Stars to match it with Winx, Waller realises the import’s Australian debut comes with extra scrutiny as a placegetter in the English, Irish and French Derbies.
Waller is in no doubt Storm The Stars has a place among the best in Australian racing, but for the moment it’s an assessment unlikely to be shared by avid barrier trial watchers.
“I’ve got myself convinced he’s a decent horse,” Waller said.
“Everybody has seen what I’ve seen. He’s trialled OK. He hasn’t trialled badly but he certainly hasn’t trialled brilliantly.”
Waller said it wasn’t in Storm The Stars’ DNA to show up at less than the staying distances for which he is bred and trained.
“The way we train tends to help an Australian horse be competitive (over a sprint distance) first-up and still win a Melbourne Cup and a Cox Plate,” he said.
“They can be competitive at every distance if they’ve got class but these European horses aren’t like that at all.”
Besides Winx and Storm The Stars, Waller will also run Group One-winning stayers Preferment, Who Shot Thebarman and Grand Marshal.
A Tye Angland mount, Storm The Stars is Waller’s second pick of the string as he looks ahead to the Ranvet Stakes.
“I reckon over a mile you’ll see a flashing light on his head over the last part,” the trainer said.
“But I think he is spot-on for his second-up run.”
Waller’s sequence of training four successive Chipping Norton winners was broken last year when Contributer defeated Godolphin stablemate Hartnell.
The betting says normal service will resume for Australia’s most dominant stable with Winx rated a $1.40 chance to continue on her winning way.
Hartnell is the bookmakers’ second elect with Mongolian Khan on the third line as the New Zealand-trained star makes his first appearance since winning the Caulfield Cup.
Mongolian Khan is staying at the Warwick Farm stables of Bjorn Baker, the son of trainer Murray Baker.
The four-year-old has galloped twice on the Warwick Farm course proper this week, confirming he has taken little time to settle in.
“He’s a lovely natured horse who takes everything in his stride,” the stable’s racing manager Jack Bruce said.