This season’s Sydney Trainer’s Premiership winner Chris Waller is hoping to end the season on another high by winning the $100,000 Winter Challenge at Rosehill Gardens this weekend.
Waller is also hoping to win the final race of the season, which is fittingly named the Congratulations Chris Waller Handicap.
“It would be great (to win the final race of the season),” Waller said.
“It would just be another one of those fairy-tales that we’ve been spoilt with over the year really.”
The trainer is represented in the race by four-year-old gelding Key West.
“Key West will appreciate a better track if we get a bit of fine weather and he has got a good draw (five) so he’s certainly got a chance,” Waller said.
“If the track dries out he is a chance to cap off a great season for us.”
Waller fell four wins short of Peter Snowden in last year’s premiership, despite holding an early lead.
“Last season we were in front for the first six months so obviously we got a taste of being a frontrunner,” he said.
“Then we were soon overtaken and got a long way behind but to then have a good end to the season last year was encouraging.
“From that it showed me we had the systems in place and the right team to do that.”
This time around Waller sits a comfortable 22.5 wins ahead of Snowden, who remains his closet rival.
“We just haven’t had a bad month,” Waller said.
“We started strongly, we had a good mid-season, I thought we might drop off through the (autumn) carnival but we had a strong carnival and maintained our lead.
“And the last few months have been similar to last year where we’ve been very strong again.
“I guess we’ve always been hopeful this season but never got too far ahead of ourselves because it’s very disappointing if you don’t reach your goals.”
Waller will be represented by a total of five horses in Saturday’s Winter Challenge, including his biggest chance Foreteller.
“He looks a promising horse,” Waller said of Foreteller.
“I wouldn’t like to see the track any worse than slow for him but he’s a horse we’ve got a high opinion of.
“He showed a glimpse of that in his last start prior to a short break and he looks to have come back well.”
Snow Alert will also be having his first run back in tomorrow’s Winter Challenge.
”Snow Alert is resuming and the track will need to be better than slow to perform at his best,” Waller said.
”We are going to try and ride him a bit more positive this campaign and the same with Altered Boy.
“He has been getting too far back.”
Altered Boy will run in the 1,500 metre Winter Challenge in the hope of gaining his first win since December last year.
Bellagio Wynn and Gigino will round out the stable’s hopes in the race.
“Bellagio Wynn is resuming and will need the run,” Waller said.
“I’m not sure how good he is, a promising horse and I expect him to run well.
“Gigino is struggling for form due to fitness but he should be near his peak for Saturday.”
Waller is well-represented throughout the season’s final day of racing at Rosehill, with the first race of the day seeing the trainer line up stablemates Altius and Sparton.
”Two nice horses who will win their share of races,” Waller said of the pair.
”Both have drawn awkward and will need luck.”
Stayers Telesmon and Mikiyama are due to run in the Congratulations Cadel Evans Handicap.
”Both have drawn wide but Telesmon showed last start he was knocking on the door,” Waller said.
”He has improved again and I believe he is one of the best of the day.
“Mikiyama has also improved and will definitely keep them honest.”
In the fourth race of the day, Waller will be represented by Brayroan, Mohtashem and Thumbtacks.
”Brayroan looks the pick,” he said.
”He has a good draw and is ready for the 1900 metres. He has a bit of upside to him.
“Mohtashem is dropping back in distance and same again, no world-beater but there to keep them honest.
“I talked the owners into keeping Thumbtacks in training to help me win the premiership and he got the job done at Warwick Farm last start.”
Handy mare Valhussle will step up in race five in the hope of winning her fourth race this preparation.
“Valhussle has won three this preparation and has been in work over a year,” Waller said.
”A prize money earner, fit and well, no reason not to turn out again.”
Under the weather Sikka will run in the Congratulations Lonhro Handicap in the second last race of the day.
”He hasn’t been 100 per cent right but his blood looks good for this Saturday,” Waller said.
”He is honest, he has a big weight, (but) a good barrier draw and likes the distance.”
Regardless of the tomorrow’s results, Waller said he will be thankful for his successes this season.
”It has been a great season and a credit to the whole team,” he said.