A decade ago, emerging trainer Chris Waller could not afford to buy yearlings and was forced to bolster his Sydney stable with tried horses from Europe.
Fast forward 10 years and Waller is now Australia’s leading Group One trainer and heads to his native New Zealand for the Premier sale at Karaka on Monday as a major player.
Among the horses he has his eye on is the last Zabeel colt to be offered for public auction with the ageing stallion now enjoying retirement.
“When I was growing up, Zabeel was an idol of mine. I was in awe of him,” Waller said.
“But when I started training I couldn’t afford to buy yearlings, let alone Zabeels, and had to go overseas to buy tried horses.
“I would love to be a part of the last Zabeel colt. We are interested but we’ll wait and see how we go.”
A couple of years ago, a more financially secure Waller paid $190,000 for a son of Zabeel who would come to be known as Preferment.
The colt won the Victoria Derby to give Zabeel his 44th individual Group One winner, just one less than his own sire Sir Tristram.
Cambridge Stud proprietor Sir Patrick Hogan imported Sir Tristram from Europe and won a silent auction with Colin Hayes to stand his Group One winning son Zabeel.
Waller is proud of the achievement of Preferment and is looking forward to the colt adding to his record and his stallion value.
Preferment is among several high profile horses from the stable scheduled to trial on Tuesday.
“He is the picture of health,” Waller said.
“He is a colt with the greatest nature and is very laid back.
“The plan is to trial on Tuesday and then maybe have another trial or start off in the Hobartville Stakes.
“The Australian Derby is his aim but just how we get there has not been finalised.”
Savabeel is so far the most successful son of Zabeel at stud and Waller is also in charge of the next generation of the O’Reilly bloodline.
Like Zabeel, O’Reilly has been a huge influence on New Zealand breeding and his premature death late last year came as a blow to Waikato Stud.
Dual Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Falls is his heir apparent at famous New Zealand farm when he completes his final racing campaign.
“Sacred Falls has been getting ready in New Zealand and will come back to Sydney this week,” Waller said.