Waller sets sights on Everest Strip out
Chris Waller is the first to admit that when The Everest was launched, the race was not high on his radar.
But as the hype and interest surrounding the event began to escalate, Waller’s interest was piqued.
Two seasons ago, Sydney’s premier trainer decided he needed to make a concerted effort to get a horse into the world’s richest race on turf.
As it turned, out he got a trio of runners into the 2019 renewal and one of them, three-year-old Yes Yes Yes, soared to victory.
Despite his experiences with champion Winx and having won many of Australia’s major races, Waller says he was unprepared for how he would feel after winning the $15 million showpiece.
“It was quite different. With those races, until you’ve been part of it, they don’t register,” Waller said.
“That was the first year I’ve had runners in the race. We could see the race evolving and we said we need to change things around and make sure we get some runners.
“When Yes Yes Yes hit the front it was pretty surreal because I hadn’t thought about the financial gain. I just never do that, believe it or not. You just come home disappointed.
“Obviously, the owners of the horse were rapt, the slot holders were rapt, the stud value on the horse, it was just such a big win and that’s what these big races are.”
It is little surprise Waller is coming back for more at Randwick on Saturday.
He will have two runners this year in dynamic sprinter Nature Strip, who has been backed into favouritism after drawing gate five, and lightly-raced mare Haut Brion Her.
The betting confidence comes despite Nature Strip having had an imperfect preparation.
He has been beaten twice and dislodged jockey James McDonald in a crucial barrier trial, but he did have excuses for his last-start Premiere Stakes defeat when he was found to have mucus in his windpipe.
Waller said the gelding had responded well to treatment and worked strongly on Tuesday.
The trainer has maintained his faith in the horse, and his nerve.
“We’ve just got to make sure he’s got his confidence up and is ready to go,” Waller said.
“We haven’t panicked.”
Haut Brion Her was one of the final inclusions in Saturday’s lucrative sprint but with six wins from 10 starts she is building an impressive record.
She will represent her owners, Three Bridges Thoroughbreds, who purchased Waller’s Everest slot for 2020 in order to secure her a start.