Life won’t be the same after the Winx farewell for Chris Waller
Source: Racenet /
Waller’s life and career changed forever once Winx’s greatness became apparent.
Waller has suffered through the stresses and pressures of expectations that come with training one of the all-time greats but after Saturday, things will change again.
“It’s hard to describe the pressure, which we put upon ourselves,” Waller said.
“It’s just constant, it’s day after day, after day, after day. You put it all on yourself.
“We’ve chosen to come this extra preparation and we want to go out with this fairytale ending.”
The commitments and expectations on Waller have and will be at a level none of his predecessors have ever experienced whether that have been Bart Cummings chasing another Melbourne Cup win after Viewed in 2008 or Peter Moody with Black Caviar at Royal Ascot or in her final start.
Randwick is set to be a sell-out for the first time in a long time and the eyes of the nation, as well as other parts of the world, are on Winx, her jockey Hugh Bowman and Waller’s every move this week.
“She’s taught me a lot, Winx has, when it comes to understanding people’s expectations,” Waller said.
“The sales (Inglis Easter Yearling Sale) being on is a good distraction.
“I’m counting down the gallops. She’s got one to go on Thursday and then hope Saturday comes around quickly.
“I just want to get to Saturday morning, race day and I’ve done my job. Not so much done my job but I’ll have got her there safely so I’ll be counting down the days.
“I’ve felt the same way ahead of every grand final.
“I know what can go wrong. Touch wood it doesn’t.
“On Saturday, we’ll have other Group I runners. I’m constantly thinking about Winx but all of a sudden I’m putting a saddle on an Oaks runner and for that moment it’s just as important.
“You have to focus on what you’re doing.
“When I get given that saddle to put on Winx the time just flies.”
There is a realistic chance on Saturday that if Winx does record her 33rd consecutive win, her 25th at Group I level, it could fittingly be Waller’s 100th Group I success.
He’s currently trained 98 Group I winners and will saddle up Australian Oaks favourite Verry Elleegant in the race before Winx’s final start.
“You count Group Is, you don’t lose track of them,” he said. “I guess with Winx, she’s been responsible for a quarter of them which has been a big help.
“It’s like hitting four sixes in a row. She’s been a big help and it’s been very rewarding.
“You remember your Group Is and there’s a story to tell behind every one.”
After Saturday, Waller says the he’s looking forward to a quiet moment at home with the family where he can, for the first time sit and enjoy the once in a lifetime ride he’s been on with Winx.
“It’s going to be unbelievable to sit back and reflect on it, which I haven’t done,” he said.
“People might say you’re kidding and won’t believe what they’re reading but that’s a fact.”
For Waller, Winx has taught him many things – one of those being the amount of varying opinions on her ability and the racing path chosen by the team. Something the trainer says he’s learned to accept.
“Plenty of people have opinions about her,” he said.
“That what makes Australian racing so special, it’s something that’s been going for many, many years and she’s a small part of Australian racing history now.
“She’ll never be regarded by every single person as being the best horse in Australia but I’m touched that she will be considered that or by many people that’s she’s regarded as one of the greatest.
“I know coming into the spring when the trials are around and I walk out there with a horse that won a Group I through the autumn and there’s no cameras, no reporters around it’s not going to be the same as it’s been for the last three years.
“It’s been very special. It’s been a privilege.”