Saturday’s G2 The Star Apollo Stakes at Randwick is of particular significance for world #10 trainer Chris Waller - and not just because it marks the 2019 debut of the great Winx.
Expat New Zealander Waller will have six of the eight runners in the 1400-metre contest, with Winx, officially the world's best racehorse, just one of three G1 winners among them - the others are Patrick Erin and Unforgotten. While Winx is expected to continue her winning ways, Waller said the race is also a good stepping stone for his other runners.
New Zealand-bred Patrick Erin broke through at elite level last year when winning the G1 Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick and is being set on a cups path this year. “He is a very good stayer and he will be getting home well over the last 200 metres,” Waller said.
“He is on a path towards the BMW (G1, 2400m). I would say he will almost definitely head on a Sydney Cup (G1, 3200m) path following that and then we will be looking at the Melbourne Cup in the spring with him, all going to plan.”
Of last year's Australian Oaks heroine Unforgotten, Waller said: “She has come back very well and should be in for a good autumn, and in normal years you would say she would be a genuine chance of winning the race, so don’t discount her.”
Waller, who purchased the daughter of Fastnet Rock out of Curraghmore’s 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft for $360,000, is hoping she can gain a berth into the A$5m All Star Mile at Flemington next month, along with stablemate Egg Tart, a daughter of Sebring, who also lines up in the Apollo.
“Unforgotten and Egg Tart shouldn’t be discounted in the All Star Mile and we would be hoping with one of these two horses that we pick up a wild card should we decide to head down that path,” he said.
“If not, obvious races like the Doncaster [Mile at Randwick in April], which carries Group 1 status, are a little more important for them.”
Waller’s two other Apollo starters are 8-year-old Tom Melbourne, a son of Dylan Thomas, and 5-year-old Brimham Rocks, a son of Fastnet Rock. The two non-Waller runners are three-time G1 winner Happy Clapper, a perennial victim of Winx, who won last year’s Doncaster Mile, and 4-year-old mare Aloisia.