Leading trainer Chris Waller holds a strong hand heading into Winx Stakes Day, with Verry Elleegant his leading contender in the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m), and Funstar the favourite in the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m).
Speaking to RSN 927, Waller gave punters an idea of what to expect from his horses on a big day of racing on Saturday.
“She’s come back really well. I think her chances will be boosted by the fact it’ll be a soft to heavy track. It’s been a fine couple of days in Sydney, but we’re slowly getting back to where we need to,” Waller said.
“It’s been a wet period for six months – the ground’s waterlogged, it’s taking an age to dry out. It’ll be in her favour tomorrow.
“She was only fair first-up last prep, but second-up she was beaten a nostril in a Group One mile. I think she’s close to that form, and she’s in for a good prep.”
Watch: Verry Elleegant narrowly go down to Te Akau Shark in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m):
"The Shark's coming for the kill!"
— Racing.com (@Racing) February 29, 2020
On his other chances in the Winx Stakes, Waller was confused about the market’s lack of respect for Golden Eagle winner Kolding, who is currently a $51 chance.
“Kolding, he’s drawn 18. I don’t think there’s any respect for him in Victoria simply because he doesn’t run well down there. If you take out those left-handed track runs, and the fact he carried 57kg or so in the Doncaster, his form’s really good still,” Waller said.
“I can’t believe the price he’s paying – maybe it’s because of the barrier which he needs to overcome.
On his other runners in the race: “Imaging and Star Of The Seas are nowhere near his [Kolding’s] class, but Star Of The Seas ran second in a Doncaster, runs well fresh and handles the soft.
“Imaging with his wide draw, he’s a genuine Group Two winner, but he’d need a bit of luck to go his way.”
Imaging is currently at $19 in the market for The Winx Stakes (1400m), with Star Of The Seas a $26 chance.
Watch: Star Of The Seas flash home second in the Doncaster Mile (1600m):
Nettoyer will be eating pizza for dinner to celebrate the Doncaster Mile win. ? pic.twitter.com/dY2vV0AajD
— 7HorseRacing ? (@7horseracing) April 4, 2020
Waller gave punters some reasoning as to why he opted to have promising mare Funstar run in the Group 3 Show County Quality over the Group 1 Winx Stakes, with the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) the first goal, before stepping to either the Golden Eagle, or the Cox Plate.
“I think it came down to the fact that the tracks are wet in Sydney, and we didn’t want to flatten her first-up.
“While she’s run well over 1400m first-up in the past, because we’ll probably lean towards an Epsom with her, I think 1200m, into 1400m, into a mile might be the way to go.
“If she’d been in the Winx Stakes, I’d have been pretty bullish about her chances.
“Funstar’s had a good spell, and has the chance to have two runs before the Epsom, which I think she needs.
“She hasn’t quite shown the same staying qualities that Winx did, if anything, Funstar’s shown she’s a little bit vulnerable at 2000m, so that’s the time to tell [in the Epsom].
“We’ve also got the Golden Eagle now, so after the Epsom, we’ll be either going to a Cox Plate – which would be my preference if I’m confident she can run the 2000m … If not, the Golden Eagle is a good option.”
Funstar is currently the $2.75 favourite for the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) on Saturday.