Hall of Fame trainer Chris Waller has joined the growing chorus for fundamental change in the racing industry by advocating for later starts to daily trackwork and improved conditions for stable staff.
Trainers around the nation have begun speaking out about the long hours endured by stable staff, an issue exacerbated by early morning trackwork and later finishes due to twilight and night race meetings.
Waller made a passionate and articulate argument for the sport to adopt more modern workplace practices or risk alienating a younger generation of potential workers.
“Who really wants their children to be starting work at 3am, or having to drive to work or catch public transport at that time,’’ Waller said.
“And who actually wants to do it? Only those who have ‘toughed’ it out and had to do it.
“But we are not going to get new people into the game unless they have a mad love for horses and racing, and that is getting few and far between.
“We live in a city of five million people and Parramatta is on my doorstep but we don’t get school kids coming down saying they want to work with horses.
“We are going to shoot ourselves in the foot if we are not careful. The easy answer is to start trackwork later in the morning, as late as we can.’’
Waller admits the “burn out factor” is very real in the racing industry.
“I’m lucky, my wife (Stephanie) accepts it and I have a good team around me but if I wasn’t training winners, it would make it hard,’’ he said.
“We (trainers) are tired, we are under the pump, we struggle to make time for everyone. Straight after the last race we go home and go to bed.
“If you are doing it on your own and can’t afford to have a foreperson and office staff, and you are up doing accounts at night when you should be asleep, then it gets to you if you are not having a bit of luck.
“They are the ones I feel for the most, the young trainers coming through.’’
WALLER THROUGH THE ROOF AGAIN
The 2020-21 racing season is not even at the halfway point but the Waller stable smashed the $20 million prizemoney barrier over the long weekend.
Waller had winners with Order Again (Kensington) and Solar Apex (Wyong) on Saturday to move to 149 wins on all tracks this season. He’s a clear leader in the national premierships for both prizemoney and race wins.
But the 10-time premier Sydney trainer’s most impressive performer was at Canterbury last Friday when April Rain scored the easiest of wins. The grey mare only won a maiden but she has loads of ability and can storm through her grades in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Waller is still finalising his team for the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic on the Gold Coast on January 16 after Ranch Hand’s close third at Eagle Farm last Saturday.
“I think Ranch Hand is a good horse but I don’t think he’s the right fit for the Magic Millions mould,’’ Waller said.
“He just needs time but I won’t say he is not going to the race. We will see where he fits in with prizemoney, if he is nowhere near getting in we won’t even worry about it. If he is a chance, we will consider it.’’
Waller said She’s All Class is a certain starter in the Magic Millions with the brilliant filly set to barrier trial at Rosehill on Monday morning.
But stablemate Shaquero needs to prove himself in a barrier trial in Brisbane this week or under race conditions at the Gold Coast next Saturday to go to the Magic Millions.
“I’ll see how Shaquero is this week,’’ Waller said. “He’s entered for a barrier trial (Gold Coast) on Tuesday or he might run up there next Saturday. He won’t go to the races (Magic Millions) without one of the two.’’
Waller also revealed dual Group 1 winner Kolding will trial at Rosehill on Monday as he builds up to his return to racing in the Group 2 $200,000 Expressway Stakes at Rosehill Gardens at the end of the month.
SARGENT’S DYNAMIC DUO
Trainer John Sargent has only had two juvenile starters this season and both have been winners — unbeaten duo Four Moves Ahead and Readily Availabull.
Sargent said Four Moves Ahead has pulled up well after her stunning debut win at the Kensington meeting and will race next in the Group 3 $160,000 Widden Stakes at the Expressway Stakes meeting.
“She ate up after her win and went to the beach this morning,’’ Sargent said on Sunday.
“She’s taken it all in her stride. The best thing about this filly is her attitude, she’s very relaxed, nothing bothers her.’’
Readily Availabull won his only start in the Ballarat Magic Million Clockwise Classic during the spring and is due to have a barrier trial at Randwick on Thursday in preparation for the Magic Millions 2yo Classic next week.
Trainer Mark Newnham has Summer Cup winner Spirit Ridge and stablemates Gone Bye and Fulmina set to clash in the Listed $150,000 January Cup (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
“Spirit Ridge has pulled up well after his win on Boxing Day and this does look the right race for him before he goes to 2400m for the Australia Day Cup,’’ Newnham said.
“I want to run Gone Bye, he deserves his chance at this level, and I thought Fulmina ran well at Gosford (fourth in the Belle of the Turf Stakes) but they were a bit sharp for her over 1600m.
“She is racing like she needs 2000m now.’’
Newnham is also likely to start exciting sprinter Big Parade in a Benchmark 88 Handicap over 1200m.
“I want to keep him in the same grade and build his confidence,’’ Newnham said. “He’s a horse I have a lot of time for and he has plenty of time to get to stakes grade.’’
BOSS BACK ON DECK
Champion jockey Glen Boss has declared himself fit to ride Magic Millions hopefuls Away Game and Fake Love in crucial Gold Coast barrier trials on Tuesday despite suffering mild concussion in a fall at Eagle Farm last Saturday.
Boss, who was dislodged from Morton’s Fork just after the finish of the Shoot Out, was taken to hospital where he was kept in for observation overnight.
“We were pulling up near the crossing Morton’s Fork suddenly whipped around, he went one way and I went the other,’’ Boss said.
“I landed on my neck and shoulders so I’m a bit stiff today but I’m fine now.’’
Boss was released from hospital early yesterday morning and said he will ride Away Game (3YO Guineas) and Fake Love (2YO Classic) in their barrier trials tomorrow.
With Ron Dufficy
RUN OF THE DAY
High profile filly Four Moves Ahead ran right up to expectations with a dominant winning performance at her debut. She had a fair way to go but looking at the win she should shape right up to the better 2yo races in the coming months.
FORGET THEY RAN
I’m sure Laurelin is much better than what we saw on Saturday. She was hard in the market after one good trial but did plenty wrong under race conditions on the wet.
Don’t sack her on that.
THE BLACK BOOK
I don’t mind a couple of Chris Waller improvers. Super Effort is ready to win after two runs back from a spell now while the 2yo Morioka did enough at her debut running 3rd to suggest she is an improver when she gets over a bit of ground.
RIDE OF THE DAY
Sam Clipperton is a very talented jockey who had a frustrating time last year. Sam has started off the new year with a bang riding a few winners on Friday and backed it up with a gem on Order Again and finished off with a well judged ride on Never Talk.
Hopefully he can get on a roll now with confidence.