Chris Waller has always been a great trainer but in the last two season he’s announced himself as one of the best in the country.
His training skills have certainly developed but at the same time he’s built a whole new demeanour of self confidence and pride.
“I’m the type of person who has got a lot of respect for my peers and that hasn’t changed, but in the early days I was scared to even talk to them,” Waller said.
“I didn’t want to say, ‘Oh hi Mr Cummings’ because he wouldn’t have a clue who I was. So I’d just sort of sit back and not say anything and I’m a little bit the same now. It was quite intimidating but once I got that first Group I win, it gave me the confidence to know that I can compete against some of these legendary people.”
His first Group 1 victory came with Triple Honour in the Doncaster Handicap three years ago, a race that today he hopes to emulate with three hopefuls in the $2 million event.
He certainly knows how to get the job done, Rangirangdoo gave him a second win last year so it’s developing into somehwat of a pet event for Waller.
“It’s very special for me,” he said.
“It was my first Group I win and it gave me a lot of confidence as a trainer and that confidence has helped me build my career.”
His career started in New Zealand on a dairy farm in the town of Foxton where his parents and grandparents were hobby breeders.
He got his first break working as a stable hand for New Zealand trainer Paddy Busuttin.
From there he went out on his own and quickly got a taste of the Australian game with horses good enough to run for him across the ditch.
It was the lure of much better prize money that eventually hooked him on the Aussie racing industry.
“I clearly remember winning two races on one day over there and the trainers percentages were $560 for winning two races,” Waller said.
“You pick up that money just for running third in the middle of winter in Sydney.”
He then moved to Sydney full-time with his career launching to the next level from a stable of four horses up to hoard of 60.
He’s also a world record holder having trained a winner at 24 consecutive Rosehill Saturday meetings.
On the back of that effort he became the Sydney Carnival Ambassador for 2011, responsible for a carnival worth more than $18 million in prize money.
He’s now at the top of the Sydney Premiership table with 71 wins giving him a big gap on legendary rivals like Bart Cummings and Gai Waterhouse.
“I’m always looking at what others are doing and listening to what others are saying, but coming to Sydney and training against all the famed trainers and the rising stars in the training ranks really opened my eyes,” Waller said.
“I was trying bits of everything, but it wasn’t until that I started to hit that confidence and back myself with my own methods that I started to do better.
“I’ve still got a long way to go and we’re still polishing things up and I’m still learning.”
His three chances for further Group 1 success in the Doncaster today are Danleigh, Syreon and Triple Elegance.
All of them genuine contenders at toppling More Joyous especially with the wet track and lighter weights.
Danleigh won the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes already this year at Warwick Farm but his last run in the Group 1 George Ryder was underwhelming after he started as favourite.
“After we assessed the run we worked out they went real slow and the backmarkers didn’t get much chance. He’s a good chance of bouncing back.”
Syreon has emulations of Rangirangdoo after winning a 2000m lead-up race at Group 3 level at Rosehill.
“In his favour is he’s a very fit horse and is in great form. He’s got an outside chance,” Waller said.
Triple Elegance is his best hope though and second favourite with bookmakers after coming home hard to win the George Ryder Stakes, although she’s none from five at Randwick.
“He’s a horse on the rise, but to win that he’s got to keep rising. He’s a horse with a lot of upsize where a lot of horses in the race aren’t going to get much better. We’re hoping he can take that next step,” he said.