Brazen Beau came agonisingly close to Royal Ascot glory in 2015PICTURE: Getty Images
Royal Ascot near miss still haunts Waller
Our man Down Under catches up with Sydney's champion trainer Chris Waller, the man responsible for Saturday's Cox Plate favourite Winx, and finds he has not forgotten about his near miss at Royal Ascot last year
CHRIS WALLER has taken practically all before him in Australia in the last few years but he narrowly missed out on Royal Ascot glory in 2015, something he continues to reflect on to this day.
Brazen Beau was narrowly denied by Undrafted in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and as Waller prepares Winx for another shot at Cox Plate glory this weekend, he pondered the difference between taking care of a star at home versus attempting to do the same abroad.
"I do feel the pressure [of being responsible for a star horse] but as all trainers can imagine, when you've got a number of horses to train, it distracts the attention from being on just one horse," he explained.
"On Saturday, we'll have probably seven or eight runners and one of them happens to be in the Cox Plate but there'll be a race after it and a race before it. That just helps you to flow along.
"That was something interesting I found with Brazen Beau. I would normally have around 150 horses in work every day but when I went over to England for a couple of weeks, I only had one horse, which was very different. When that happens, you maybe put a lot more emphasis on the horse, over-analyse and over-train them.
"The best thing about Winx is she just fits in a does her job. She's just part of the regular beat."
Weather to play a part this weekend
It has been a wet week (at least by Australian standards) in Melbourne so far and with more rain forecast before Moonee Valley's two-day Cox Plate meeting kicks off on Friday, the state of the ground is sure to be a major talking point.
The weather could also have an impact on the action in a different way though, with the threat of typhoons reportedly concerning officials at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, who must sign off on a jockey leaving to ride elsewhere.
This could make connections of Vadamos nervous because they have booked superstar Jaoa Moreira to partner their charge in the Cox Plate, while Sam Clipperton is due to fly in on Friday to take the ride aboard English for Gai Waterhouse in the Manikato Stakes.
The pair must fulfil their riding arrangements at Happy Valley on Wednesday before returning in time for Sunday's meeting at Sha Tin but with typhoon conditions forecast for the weekend, getting home could be an issue.
Last October, Moreira and fellow Hong Kong-based rider Zac Purton missed a Sunday meeting after riding at Randwick in Sydney a day earlier after their flight home was diverted to Taiwan to avoid a category-three typhoon.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club took an exceedingly dim view of that and will be keen to avoid a repeat, especially given the impact 'Magic Man' Moreira has on betting turnover.
Jockeys' agents, watch this space.
Tributes to a giant of Australian racing
Away from Victoria, Racing New South Wales announced on Monday evening that John Messara is to retire from his position as chairman of the state's governing body in December.
Messara has held the post for more than five years, during which time he has overseen a dramatic upturn in the fortune of racing in his state, with prize money sky-rocketing and The Championships established as the leading autumn showpiece for Australia's biggest stars.
A Member of the Order of Australia and one-time chartered accountant and stockbroker, Messara's influence extends far beyond his work in the last five years. Indeed, his fingerprints are all over the thoroughbred breed in the Southern Hemisphere courtesy of his work at his own Arrowfield Stud, one of the largest breeding operations in Australia.
Along with Coolmore Stud, he was involved in the purchase of Danehill, a move that opened the door to stallions shuttling between hemispheres and he has bred, raised and/or sold more than 40 Group 1 winners.
Laurie Macri, chairman of the Australian Turf Club, was among many leading industry figures to pay tribute to Messara, saying: "I am grateful for what I have learned from John's talents as a leader, as are I am sure countless others in the racing industry for whom John has been a wonderful mentor."
His are significant shoes to fill.