Waller stablemates in protest tussle
Champion trainer Chris Waller found himself in a rare situation at Kembla Grange when he won the third race twice with two different horses.
The Waller-trained Relucent was first past the post in Saturday’s 2000 metre event, narrowly staving off the late charge of stablemate Accountability.
But it was a short-lived victory with James McDonald aboard the runner-up firing in a protest against Nash Rawiller on Relucent for interference in the straight.
McDonald said he had established a run between eventual fourth placegetter Significance and Relucent before the latter hung in and shut the gap.
“I was full of running as I went for the run but the run closed soon after,” McDonald told stewards.
“I had to come back and switch off heels,” McDonald said.
“He finished off really powerfully. I felt I was entitled to the run but the eventual winner shifted in.”
Rawiller mounted a strong defence, arguing McDonald never fully established himself in the gap.
“I think I was within my rights to shut the gate, so to speak, he hasn’t established his run,” Rawiller said.
Stewards disagreed and the protest was upheld with Accountability ($7) elevated to first ahead of Relucent ($8.50) with Karmazone ($20) third.
Waller made it a race-to-race double 35 minutes later when Hulk came from behind the speed in the Evergreen Turf Australia Handicap (1000m).
The four-year-old was struggling to win a race until Waller changed around his training and prepared him as a short-course sprinter.
He has now won two of his past four starts, both times for Tommy Berry.
“I know he’s had a few runs this prep but you wouldn’t know it, that’s probably the best he’s felt for me,” Berry said.
“Chris keeps him nice and fresh and back to the shorter trips, unlike last prep when we tried to stretch him out a bit, so he just seems like a horse with a new lease of life.”
The disappointment of the race was $2.30 favourite Destination who didn’t travel well and was beaten a long way out with jockey Hugh Bowman telling stewards he wasn’t happy with the horse’s action.