Boban claims another Group 1 for Waller
Report: Australia, Saturday
Flemington: Emirates Stakes (Group 1) 1m handicap, turf
CHRIS WALLER's rise to superstardom in Australia has been accelerated during this year's Spring Carnival and the same is true of his rapidly-improving miler Boban, who bagged his second Group 1 of the spring as his trainer notched his own third top-flight triumph in the space of eight days.
The Sydney-based Waller, now indisputably Australia's top trainer, had sent out the potentially Royal Ascot-bound pair Zoustar and Red Tracer to land Group 1 races at Flemington last Saturday. Back at the same venue he struck once again as Boban delivered his trademark burst of late speed to become the first horse in 27 years to supplement Epsom Handicap success with Emirates Stakes glory.
Boban had dazzled when coming from last to first at Caulfield three weeks ago but Waller was worried about giving the gelding his fifth run of the spring campaign in such exalted company.
He need not have been nervous as the four-year-old, ridden more prominently than usual by Glyn Schofield, got up in the final strides to deny Smokin' Joey (Wez Hunter/Jason Benbow) and Speediness (Colin Scott/Craig Williams).
Former Warren Place inmate Stipulate, making his debut for David Hayes, beat one horse home in 12th.
British challenger Mull Of Killough (Jane Chapple-Hyam/Damien Oliver), having his third run of the spring carnival after finishing third in a Flemington Listed race on Tuesday, produced the best performance of his trip, taking a close fourth having briefly led a furlong out.
"He fought very hard today," said Waller. "He got there with 100 metres to run and he was out of petrol but he dug very deep.
"He's a good horse, as simple as that, and he now has confidence. We see it regularly with sporting teams. They might start their year at the bottom of the premiership but they start climbing the table through nothing other than confidence and a good team environment. We've provided that and the horse has done the rest."
Asked whether Boban could step up in trip for next year's Cox Plate, Waller added: "At this stage he doesn't need to but the Cox Plate sounds pretty enticing. We'll start off on a weight for age path and carefully tread the water."
For Schofield this was a special day in what has been a special carnival as his 19-year-old apprentice son, Chad, who finished eighth in this race, enjoyed the biggest moment of his career when taking the Cox Plate on Shamus Award.
"I've won a Group 1 myself now - I couldn't have him bragging over me for the next year," said Schofield, adding: "Chris Waller and his team have turned this horse around from a tearaway and a rogue into what we've seen today. I'm the lucky guy who gets on his back."
The trainer he was praising ended the four-day Flemington spectacular as the meeting's leading trainer with six victories.That represents a major achievement, and when the scale of his feat was put to him he came close to breaking down in tears.
"I'm very proud," said Waller. "Every person in the team is very important. It's as simple as that."
Also on Saturday
Flemington: Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 3) 1m5f, turf
THERE was a second British fourth on the card as the Nicky Henderson-trained Forgotten Voice's frustrating Australian expedition ended with an honourable placing in a contest that went to Australian training legend Bart Cummings.
The 12-time Melbourne Cup winner had hoped to chase an astonishing 13th success in the nation-stopping race last Tuesday but Precedence failed by one horse to make the cut, leaving him to take his chance in what proved to be a valuable compensation prize.
As well as the £106,000 winner's pot, Precedence - whose owners include the Duchess of Bedford - earned the £60,000 bonus laid on for the connections of horses who had been declared for the Melbourne Cup but failed to gain a spot.
Cummings, who turns 86 on Thursday and has been suffering from ill health, came to Flemington last Saturday but was absent on this occasion, leaving the saddling and talking to be done by grandson and training partner James Cummings, who watched the Craig Williams-ridden Precedence edge out Sertorious in a bob of heads.
Cummings said of his grandfather: "He enjoyed his trip to Melbourne. He was pretty disappointed the horse didn't get into the Melbourne Cup but this is good consolation, especially with the bonus on top of the prize money."
Forgotten Voice, unsuited by testing ground when fifth in the Geelong Cup, sat second for much of a slowly-run heat but then proved unable to match the speed of the first three down the straight.
The effort looks likely to mark the end of an Australian trip in which the horse has been ably looked after by 19-year-old groom Ryan O'Reilly.
Owners Paul and Susan Roy's son Michael said: "The horse has been on the go for a while as he was jumping last summer, so realistically I think we'll now bring him home.
"It hasn't quite worked out for us here but it's been a lot of fun and, you never know, we might be back next year. It's been a lot of run and Ryan has done a fantastic job with him."