2016 Winter Challenge First-Up for Sacred Master

Kiwi expat turned champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller will kick off a spring bid for another former New Zealander saddling-up his The Metropolitan hope Sacred Master in Saturday’s Winter Challenge 2016.

She's Clean

Chris Waller’s mare She’s Clean is one of four hopefuls for the stable in Saturday’s 2016 Winter Challenge. Photo: Steve Hart.

A winner of six of his 13 career starts to date back home in New Zealand, the Mastercraftsman gelding debuts in Australia in the $150,000 Listed Winter Challenge (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens this weekend.

It will be the horse’s last start as a four-year-old and his maiden run since finishing only a length away third to El Soldado in the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) over the two miles at Ellerslie on March 12.

Sacred Master won back-to-back races before that brave staying performance including the Group 2 Avondale Cup (2400m) in late February.

The proven long-distance performer had a Randwick trial over 1050m on July 15 and ran fourth to Aralyn, but is yet to win over less than a mile.

He will only improve off whatever he does first-up in the Winter Challenge according to Waller who has a long-term plan to run in back at Royal Randwick on October 1 in the $750,000 Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m).

“Sacred Master will obviously be better over further than the 1500 metres on Saturday because he was placed in an Auckland Cup over 3200,” Waller told AAP.

“Once he gets up to 2000 metres and beyond we will see the best of him but he needs to start somewhere.

“He’s had a barrier trial and he’s ready to go to the races.

Waller has a dominant recent record in The Metropolitan results preparing two of the past five winners with The Verminator (2011) scoring an upset at 20/1  and Opinion (2014) also saluting at double figures two years ago.

Along with Sacred Master Waller will also enter his Winter Stakes fourth placegetter Marenostro, veteran Redoute’s Choice mare She’s Clean and recent Black-Type winner in Queensland Tales Of Grimm in the Winter Challenge this season.

Waller confirmed plans for rising eight-year-old She’s Clean to retire at the end of this season, while Dulled gelding Marenostro will miss out on an Epsom Handicap bid this prep in favour of easier assignments.

“She’s Clean will go to stud this year,” he said.

“She hasn’t been beaten far in Melbourne but was starting to get too much weight so it would be nice to get another win with her.

“I think he [Marenostro] might be just below Group 1 company so we’ll try to get a lesser race with him.

“He is probably best at a mile (1600m) but this race suits.”

As for the imported Tales Of Grimm, he is out to return to form after the Spear Chief Handicap winner in Brisbane’s failed eighth in the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) behind Oxford Poet on July 16.

“Tales Of Grimm had no chance the way his last race was run so we will try riding him closer this time,” Waller said.

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