Chris Waller, who has garnered worldwide acclaim as the trainer of champion mare Winx, sees Comin’ Through’s Sunday mission in the HK$25 million Group 1 Hong Kong Mile as a stepping stone to his stable having a greater international presence.
The eight-time champion Sydney trainer, just last week nominated 15 horses for next year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival and said – while at Sha Tin track work this morning, Monday 3 December – that he’d like to have had more runners in Sunday’s Hong Kong feature races.
“It’d have been nice to have been able to bring a few more horses this year but obviously the current quarantine situation makes it difficult. Funnily enough, not being able to easily come probably makes the desire to come even stronger and, overall, I would like to have a bit more of an international presence,” he said.
Online bookmaker Sportsbet has Comin’ Through as a $51 chance ahead of the 2018 Hong Kong Mile.
Comin’ Through, who’s among Waller’s Dubai nominations, is in Hong Kong chiefly because of his owner’s international aspirations and may well run better than many expect according to the trainer.
Comin’ Through is raced by Sir Owen Glenn’s Go Bloodstock. Glenn also raced his elder brother Criterion, trained by David Hayes, who competed three times in Hong Kong in 2014 and 2015 and finished third in the 2014 Hong Kong Cup and the 2015 QEII Cup.
“Sir Owen is a very international man who, of course, brought Criterion here and like me, he wants to have an international presence. Hopefully we can have a positive one on Sunday,” Waller said.
“Comin’ Through’s form has dropped away a little but tempo and luck in running have been very much against him lately. He’ll be stimulated by this change of environment which is something in his favour. He’s been good fresh and good when we’ve travelled him,” Waller said in reference to the horse winning on his first trips, from Sydney, to Victoria and Queensland.
Waller added: “The horse is good. He travelled well and he’s settled in well and very much taken it all in his stride. We’ve kept him really fresh and you won’t see him gallop here. I want him bouncing out of his skin for this race. He’s a good fresh horse, in fact his fresh record is fantastic including winning at his first run this season; so, were hopeful but obviously it’s a strong race and we’re taking on Beauty Generation. I’ve followed him closely and he (Beauty Generation) is in great form and going to be very hard to beat.”
The New Zealand-born trainer said he enjoyed his one previous visit to Hong Kong with a runner which was Preferment who finished seventh in the 2015 Vase.
“Highland Reel won it that year and Preferment wasn’t disgraced after being posted wide. Bringing him was a bit of an afterthought which really doesn’t work when you’re travelling horses to good races,” he said.
Waller’s most notable international mission was to Royal Ascot earlier that year with his high class sprinter Brazen Beau who was beaten a half-length into second place, behind Undrafted, in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m).
“I certainly enjoy the international competition, it’s good fun and it’s afforded me the opportunity of meeting great trainers like Aidan O’Brien and Dermot Weld,” he said.
As to the future, Waller did say that his visit to the Sha Tin races two weeks ago should not be interpreted as a pitch to be training here.
“No, I’m usually here once a year visiting clients but it’s certainly a very lucrative place to train. The envy of most places. I’d be giving up a lot to leave Sydney where you always believe that your next good horse is not far away and I have been spoilt with good horses there,” he said.
The best of his good horses right now are Winx and the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas winner The Autumn Sun.
“Obviously we’d consider coming here with The Autumn Sun if everything was in order. As to Winx, well the timing wasn’t right when she was younger and more recently the quarantine ruled it out. It’s a bit of a shame we didn’t get her here,” he said.
Waller confirmed that Comin’ Through would almost certainly head to Dubai after Sunday’s race.
“Provided he’s fine, that’s the plan. There are quite a few suitable races there in the lead-up to World Cup night. I’d hope we might get two or three horses to Dubai next year,” he said.