Waller keen to see mare go dis­tance

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - RAY THOMAS

SYD­NEY’S premier trainer Chris Waller is hop­ing to cap a mem­o­rable Mel­bourne spring car­ni­val by claim­ing an­other ma­jor with Shillelagh in the Group 1 $2 mil­lion Mack­in­non Stakes (2000m) at Flem­ing­ton to­day.

Waller has pre­pared four Group 1 win­ners al­ready in Mel­bourne this spring, with cham­pion mare Winx’s Turnbull Stakes and Cox Plate tri­umphs, The Au­tumn Sun’s Caulfield Guineas win, and Shillelagh’s tri­umph in the Empire Rose Stakes.

The Waller sta­ble has also en­joyed a suc­cess­ful Cup Week at Flem­ing­ton with win­ners on each of the three days so far – Shillelagh on Derby Day, a sta­ble dou­ble from Kaonic and Shraaoh on Cup Day, then Sava­cool’s win at the Oaks Day meet­ing on Thurs­day.

Shillelagh leads the sta­ble charge to­day as she bids to be­come the first mare to win the Mack­in­non Stakes since La Bella Dama in 2001.

Waller said Shillelagh “did a great job” to win the Empire Rose Stakes last Sat­ur­day.

“She had a pretty soft run but won like a good horse,’’ Waller said.

“Al­though it was against the ‘girls’, it was weight-for-age last Sat­ur­day so I think she will be fine (to­day).

“Now is the time to try her over 2000m. She is bred to get the trip be­ing by Sav­abeel and her dam’s side has thrown some stay­ers, too.

“It has only been her speed that has stopped us from ex­tend­ing her out over fur­ther be­fore.’’

Waller doesn’t have a run­ner in the other Group 1 race, the VRC Sprint Clas­sic, but he has stay­ers Li­bran and Caster­ton en­tered for the Group 3 $300,000 Queen El­iz­a­beth Stakes (2500m).

Li­bran is com­ing off a solid third to Ven­tura Storm in the Moonee Val­ley Cup, while for­mer French stayer Caster­ton im­pressed at his Aus­tralian de­but when sixth in the Gee­long Cup.

“Li­bran’s go­ing re­ally well,’’ Waller said. “He might have peaked on his run at Moonee Val­ley but it was on a day when it was hard to come from the back.’’

Caster­ton’s ef­fort at Gee­long im­pressed Waller as he didn’t fin­ish far be­hind sta­ble­mate Finche and that horse ran a very good fourth in the Mel­bourne Cup.

“The Gee­long race has brought on Caster­ton,’’ Waller said. “I’ve tried to train him the same way as Finche and he hasn’t had a hard gal­lop.

“I’ve tried to keep the speed into him so he will be an in­ter­est­ing run­ner.

“Caster­ton’s maybe one touch down from Finche. We think he is a Syd­ney Cup horse and maybe a Mel­bourne Cup horse next year.’’

Waller also has Good Project and Torg­ersen in the Group 3 $200,000 Chatham Stakes (1400m).

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