Saturday, July 20, 2024

Kiwi trainer toast of Melbourne Cup

Melbourne Cup-winning trainer, Chris Waller, has admitted he came close to withdrawing Verry Elleegant from Australia’s biggest horse race.

Melbourne Cup winning trainer, Chris Waller.

The New Zealand-born trainer says he agonised over the decision until minutes before the race acceptance deadline on Saturday.

Waller had set October’s Cox Plate as the mare’s top priority for the Spring racing season – the Melbourne Cup, he thought, may just be too much for her schedule.

But she clearly had other ideas.

Waller wasn’t present at Flemington for the Cup on Tuesday, instead choosing to stay home with family at his sprawling rural property north west of Sydney to watch the race.

“I watched the race with my family, it was pretty special,’’ Waller told The Daily Telegraph.

“As Verry Elleegant hit the front, I was just hoping she would keep going but I couldn’t hear anything. Steph and the kids went crazy.

“But I don’t think I’ve missed out by not being there at Flemington. This is a different year with Covid and everything so we will take it as it is.

“My kids had a half-day off school so they were home and I got to share this with my family and that is something I will never forget.’’

Waller grew up in Foxton, New Zealand, not far from the property of Snowy Lupton, who trained the famous 1983 Melbourne Cup winner, Kiwi.

“We had come close a few times in the Melbourne Cup but I have never worried about not winning it,” Waller said.

“I have never walked away from the track disappointed after a Cup.

“But I remember when Kelinni ran fourth one year (behind Green Moon in 2012) and I thought this race can be won. We just had to be patient and keep working hard.

“So, it was pretty fitting that Australia’s Horse of the Year last season has won the Melbourne Cup. She is a champion!’’

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