Chris Waller has not only set a new benchmark for training winners in Sydney this season but he might also be creating a record for lost opportunities in the stewards’ room.
Loch Leven, trained by Waller for multi-millionaire owner Gerry Harvey, lost the Australian Turf Club Handicap (2100m) at Warwick Farm on Wednesday on protest.
According to the premier stable, it was the fourth time on metropolitan tracks during 2012-13 that a Waller horse has had a race taken off it after a protest.
Ridden by Brenton Avdulla, Loch Leven defeated the Newcastle-trained Strike Me Lucky by a neck but the runner-up’s jockey, apprentice Rachael Murray, claimed her mount was denied a run by the winner inside the last 200m.
“I believe that there was a run there to be taken and it’s cost me one-and-a-half lengths when my horse has been beaten a neck,” Murray told stewards.
Avdulla conceded Loch Leven had rolled in “a fraction” but argued there wasn’t a run between the leader and Loch Leven at the point of the interference.”
“I think Rachael has made a mistake trying to go in between us,” he said.
Stewards didn’t take long to find that Murray was denied her rightful running and because the winning margin was decreasing with every stride, they said they had no hesitation in upholding the protest.
The reversal left Waller with 167-1/2 Sydney winners for the season.