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Sydney’s most successful winning trainer for the past four seasons, Chris Waller may have paid the nomination fee for a host of his stars in the spring majors this week but he’s not sold on a 2014 Cox Plate campaign for Boban.
One of 225 nominations taken by Racing Victoria for this year’s $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25, Boban is far from a confirmed acceptor for the weight-for-age classic.
The five-year-old Bernardini gelding is at $21 in the futures Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au and resumes racing in Sydney on Saturday.
One of three in the $175,000 Group 2 McGrath Estate Agents Missile Stakes (1200m) for Waller, Boban is first-up since suffering a bleeding attack after their second last (11th) behind It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) last April.
That incurred a three month ban that they’ve now served and ended their autumn on a low.
Last spring Boban kicked off at Rosehill on August 31 before going on later to secure the Epsom Handicap – Emirates Stakes double.
This year Waller has them coming back sooner, the triple Group 1 winner coming off a close fourth in a Randwick trial over 840m from last Friday.
Boban, drawn in barrier five with Glyn Schofield to ride, pays $9 to win the star-studded Missile Stakes.
How they come back from their lengthy let-up though will determine where to long-term this time in.
Waller admits that while the Cox Plate is on the tables, the $200,000 Group 2 Schweppes Crystal Mile (1600m) over less distance on the same day is the more realistic option.
“Boban will be forced to run in weight-for-age (races), which is no problem and he’s a specialist miler,” Waller told RSN’s Racing Ahead on Friday morning.
“Every mile race he’s been in (for me) he’s won.
“So that’ll be his path, races like the George Main (Stakes), Chelmsford (Stakes) and maybe down to Melbourne for the Crystal Mile, something like that but not a Cox Plate. It’s just too far for him.”
The $350,000 Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) runs at Royal Randwick on September 20 while the $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) is at the same track two weeks earlier.
Joining Boban in Saturday’s Missile Stakes are then stablemates Weary ($10) and Hawkspur who is a $41 outsider in betting.
“They’re all about the same point of fitness and they’re in a 1200-metre race tomorrow, which is well short of their best and they’re not quite fully fit,” Waller said.
“So it’s going to be hard to beat the specialist horses over 1200 and no doubt those specialist 1200-metre horses will be fit.
“So, realistically, I can’t see them winning but just as long as they run well, finish off strongly and have a good blow afterwards.
“If that happens we’ll know we’re on track for improvement in their next run.”
French import Weary was last seen running second to Hana’s Goal in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) on the back of a third in an all-Waller-trained Doncaster Mile first four led by dual champ Sacred Falls.
They’re nominated for both the Cox Plate and the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) the Saturday before this spring but are more likely to run in the 2014 Epsom Handicap in Sydney with Waller shooting for back-to-back wins in the early October feature.
The 2014 Caulfield Cup meanwhile has been spruiked as the major goal for Hawkspur.
Waller’s 2013 Queensland Derby winner however could miss the majors with Waller naming their more likely target as the $500,000 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
“Hawkspur, I thought he was very unlucky last year in the Turnbull at Flemington so we’ll target that race again with him and probably not go towards the Caulfield Cup,” Waller confirmed.
“I think he struggles to stay now that he’s a bit older.”
Purrealist five-year-old Hawkspur ran fifth in last year’s Turnbull Stakes behind Happy Trails who is Cox Plate bound this year and resuming in Adelaide on Saturday.
Seventh in last year’s Caulfield Cup and then a disappointing 20th when failing to see out the two miles in the Melbourne Cup, Hawkspur was last seen running 10th in the Queen Elizabeth after their Doncaster (4th), Ranvet Stakes (4th) and Chipping Norton (3rd) runs.
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