Chris Waller is anticipating a tough challenge for champion mare Winx when she encounters two-time Group One winner Humidor for the first time in the Turnbull Stakes.
Sydney’s premier trainer takes on his Victorian counterpart Darren Weir when Winx races at Flemington for the first time on Saturday, and Waller was relishing the match-up.
“He obviously goes very well in Melbourne, he came up to Sydney and was probably a bit below his best,” Waller said.
Humidor finished second to Jameka in the Group One BMW, beaten 6-1/2 lengths on a wet track at Rosehill in March, but he is building momentum in this preparation.
Humidor was spelled after the BMW and is three runs into a campaign highlighted by a last-start win in the Group One Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 16.
“He’s returned in great form and looks to be going to a new level. There’s definitely a good challenge there,” Waller said.
He was expecting Winx to stretch out to 2000m with ease when tackling the trip for the first time since the Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes in April closed out her previous preparation.
“I don’t know what her best distance is, but you don’t over-analyse things with Winx,” he said.
“Every scenario is different, she just adapts to it. The beauty of Winx is not that she’s fast, not that she’s brilliant, it’s simply she adapts to different scenarios.
“Conditions, track conditions, different tracks, speeds of races … distances.”
A field of seven was finalised on Wednesday and Winx is the $1.15 favourite to extend her winning streak to 21.
Humidor ($4.60) is the second elect with the TAB.
Winx had a track gallop at Flemington on Monday and Hugh Bowman returns to Melbourne on Thursday for a quiet work out.
“She’s settled in well. She had a gallop on Monday in true Winx style, no problem. Hughie said she just attacked it.”
Waller said Egg Tart, who missed last Saturday’s Group One Epsom Handicap due to an eye irritation, heads to Melbourne on Wednesday to line up in next weekend’s Group One Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield.
“It would have been better to be in the Epsom but I’m not denying Happy Clapper any glory,” Waller said.
“He’s probably the benchmark in handicap milers in Australia. Maybe we dodged a bullet.”