Thirteen-time Group 1 winning trainer this season alone, Sydney’s Chris Waller will back-up his Rosehill winner from the weekend Press Statement in the 2015 JJ Atkins in Brisbane this Saturday.
Waller, who most recently celebrated an elite level success with his classy filly Winx doing an easy job of destroying her rivals in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Doomben last Saturday, was originally reluctant to make the final call on whether to take Press Statement to the Sunshine State for a shot at Group 1 glory.
The undefeated son of Hinchinbrook scored a win on debut at Canterbury over 1100m as a 20/1 shot back on April 29 but was at much shorter odds at Rosehill Gardens winning the $85,000 Tab Place Multi Plate (1350m) last weekend with Jim Cassidy in the saddle.
After that success Waller said he would wait to talk to connections of the up-and-comer before confirming or shelving plans to target the $600,000 Group 1 BMW Australia J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Doomben Racecourse on Stradbroke Handicap Day.
Without denying the horse’s potential, Waller had some reservations after post-win comments from Cassidy who said while the step up to a mile would be a non-issue but how the youngster handled the notoriously tight Doomben circuit could be an issue.
“It is up to Chris Waller, that’s his job,” Cassidy told the media over the weekend.
“But the longer they give him, the better he will be.
“The talent is there and he can be a highlight horse in the spring but he is still learning.
“If it was at Eagle Farm, Randwick or here [at Rosehill], I would say go for it,” Cassidy said.
“But Doomben is a different track and he couldn’t afford to do anything wrong and still win.
“He is still learning, and there are going to be plenty of other chances to run in group 1s with him. That was really just a track gallop today.”
The JJ Atkins is traditionally held at Eagle Farm Racecourse, but with Brisbane’s other major track undergoing renovations the entire Stradbroke Day card was moved to the tighter Doomben course this Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
After meeting with Press Statement’s owners on Monday morning however Waller confirmed the galloper would make-up part of his three-pronged attack on the JJ Atkins field as the master horseman shoots for his 14th Group 1 success of the season.
Press Statement and Feast For Eyes are now set to make the trip up to Queensland to join stablemate Counterattack in Brisbane with the three to face off in the JJ Atkins field on the weekend.
Tye Angland is booked for the ride on Press Statement, the hoop aboard for the juvenile’s win on debut in late April, while Zac Purton takes the saddle on Feast For Eyes.
Current favourite in the pre-field JJ Atkins betting markets at Ladbrokes is the Peter Moody-trained Savabeel gelding Bassett who won on debut at Caulfield on May 16 in his only run to date.
Press Statement is next best in betting while Waller’s consistent Redoute’s Choice colt Counterattack, fourth in his two most recent runs in Brisbane with Hugh Bowman aboard who retains the ride in the Group 1, is also at single figures.
Two back Counterattack ran fourth to another top JJ Atkins hope Blueberry Hill in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes (1200m) on May 9 and then was fourth to Look To The Stars in the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m) on May 23, a race the Liam Birchley-trained Blueberry Hill ran second in.
Waller’s third JJ Atkins hopeful, Feast For Eyes, meanwhile is another in the top half of betting after the More Than Ready colt won over 1550m at Canterbury on May 27 by nearly four lengths.