Trainer Chris Waller and longtime associate, owner Bob Ingham, are after their maiden Group 1 trophy together with a two pronged attack in Saturday’s Tattersall’s Tiara 2014 at Eagle Farm.
Waller has a total of three hopefuls set to line-up in this year’s $500,000 Group 1 SKY Racing Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m), the season’s closing Group 1 race he won last winter with Red Tracer.
Red Tracer is back to defend her title on the weekend and will be joined this time by two other Waller-trained gallopers.
Lining up along with the reigning Tattersall’s Tiara winner for the master Sydney-based horseman are two Ingham-owned mares in Catkins and She’s Clean.
While Dane Shadow six-year-old Red Tracer, a disappointing 10th in the Stradbroke Handicap over this track and distance last time out, is the best fancied of Waller’s trio Ingham, 82, is hoping for an upset from one of the stablemates.
It would be a dream come true for the team who have been running horses together since 2008, long before Waller was the multiple premiership winning trainer he is today.
“We speak very regularly, he’s a great person who never says a cross word, he’s only got inspiration, and there’s been plenty of times I’ve needed that inspiration,” Waller said of Ingham when speaking to The Daily Telegraph.
“You treasure every word he says. It’s indescribable really.
“I don’t get nervous when I ring him, but when you pick up that phone — and it’s the same with some other owners, who are big influential people in their own right — I feel like I’m out of my comfort zone. I’ve got that much respect for them, I get jittery when I talk to them.”
Waller has handed Ingham, who was behind headliners Lonhro and Octagonal before his deal with Darley in 2008, with a number of stakes winners over the years including with Dystopia, Stryker and Jade Marauder.
But Waller said it would be “definitely one of the career highlights for me” to give his mentor a Group 1 on Saturday.
Most likely to provide the trainer-owner team with their breakthrough Group 1 win together after over 100 runners is Dubawi four-year-old Catkins, the impressive grey after her 12th career start at run number 23.
While she’s a Group 2 winner in Sydney, and has plenty of Group 1 form including a second to Red Tracer in the Myer Classic last spring, it hasn’t been smooth sailing into Saturday’s race.
Catkins was meant to race in the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes on Stradbroke Day in the lead-up to this, but she was scratched from the race missing the important run after knocking her leg.
Her last start then was a sixth to Diamond Drille in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Randwick back on April 19, considered to be the worst performance of her career.
She’s had two trials since, most recently a third over 900m at Rosehill on May 27, but the Dane Ripper would have topped her off nicely before she was stepped back up in class again.
Waller however has kept her in full work and so hopes residual fitness will be enough to see her through.
“It’s not going to be easy, it’s far from ideal, and had there been another Group 1 in two weeks, I’d probably miss Saturday,” he said.
“The good thing is she hasn’t missed any work.”
She’s Clean meanwhile has had two runs this time in and is out to improve on her fifth behind Red Tracer in last year’s Tattersall’s Tiara.
She was beaten three lengths then on the back of successive Randwick victories, but her lead-up form this time isn’t quite as impressive.
First-up the Redoute’s Choice five-year-old was fourth to subsequent Stradbroke Handicap third placegetter Srikandi in the Listed Junamo Stakes (1200m) at Doomben, and then on May 31 she raced in the Listed Bright Shadow Handicap (1200m).
There she was three lengths off Ellawisdom when fifth, a run Waller is hoping she improves on when stepped up in distance with less weight.
“She’s Clean ran fifth in this race last year, she’s third-up from a spell, and been set for this race,” Waller said.
“She’s a horse who can win a big race she’s been set for, rather than some of the others who aren’t up to the grade, or this race is an after-thought.”
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