Winx trainer eyes success in Ipswich
WHEN Australia's leading horse trainer enters two runners in a high class field, a quality race program is assured.
However, Chris Waller's interest is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg at Saturday's rare metropolitan race meeting being run in Ipswich.
The mastermind behind racing superstar Winx has accepted Vassal and Loving Home in the Stayers Cup open handicap (2150m) at Bundamba.
Both imports are from Great Britain, where they enjoyed maiden success before continuing their winning progress in Sydney.
Early favourite Vassal, with initial French links, will be ridden on Saturday by regular Ipswich track winner Jim Byrne.
Loving Home will be guided by Michael Cahill, who rode Self Sense to victory in this year's Ipswich Cup.
Waller's highly credentialled runners head a terrific nine-race card offering $577,000 in prizemoney.
Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching recalls 1991 being the last time the city hosted a major Saturday metropolitan meeting, outside the annual Ipswich Cup.
With Eagle Farm out of commission and the Doomben surface being rested, Kitching said the ITC welcomed the opportunity to run such a high-class meeting at this time of the year.
"Depending on how we go and if we can get a lot of support on the day, there's some chance that we'd be able to keep a September standalone metropolitan meet each year,'' he said.
"That's what we are hoping for.
"It gives us something else to work at and gives every other track a break just after the winter and coming into spring racing.''
Kitching said Saturday's fields were "not far off'' the quality seen on Ipswich Cup Day.
He said the first four races were exceptional with QTIS bonuses topping up the prizemoney pools and quality in the first two events on the program.
Joining Vassal and Loving Home in race four is a third Great Britain runner in Another Cocktail.
The three New Zealand horses in the Stayers Cup are My Diamantine, Cauthen's Power and Rock On Ivy.
Cauthen's Power was trained by Waller until earlier this year. He is now with trainer Chris Munce, being part owned by Australian cricket captain Steve Smith.
Top weight in the Sprinter's Cup (race three) is Charlie Boy, a runner that has won in three states and placed twice in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 the last couple of years.
Other top hopes include Someday and Flamboyer, Sunshine Coast Glasshouse winners. Craiglea Deken was named Queensland Provincial horse of the year at the recent Racing Queensland awards night.
Waller's only previous success at Bundamba was with Danchai winning the Ipswich Cup two years ago.
Kitching said having a Saturday metropolitan meeting was a boost for Ipswich racing.
The racing fanatic recalls another champion horse, then four-year-old Vo Rogue, winning a 1200m race at an Ipswich Saturday metropolitan meeting in September, 1987.
The first race on Saturday's latest metropolitan program is set down for 11.42am.
Among other leading trainers with horses racing in Ipswich include Robert Heathcote, Tony Gollan and Liam Birchley.
Queensland's top jockeys are expected to ride including Ipswich Cup Day specialist Damien Browne who has runners (Coral Bay and Dansez) in the first two races.
Saturday's big race day also offers a range of family entertainment including a jumping castle, animal farm, face painting, bucking bull and a water slide.
The turf club's function rooms are heavily booked, adding to the atmosphere expected on a rare Saturday metropolitan race meeting in Ipswich.