Here’s cheers to Waller’s No.1 barman
TRAINER Chris Waller was in the zone. He was having one of those days when everything seemed to go right at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
His mighty mare Winx was magnificent in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, stablemate Unforgotten took out the ATC Australian Oaks and the trainer completed a Group 1 treble when ageless warrior Who Shot Thebarman finally won the Sydney Cup.
Winx's win was one of the great moments in Waller's career but the trainer gained immense satisfaction from nine-year-old Who Shot Thebarman's win in the Group 1 $2 million Sydney Cup (3200m).
"There has been a lot of disappointments and frustrations with 'The Barman' because of all the seconds and thirds he has run in big races,'' Waller said. "He was second in two Sydney Cups and third in a Melbourne Cup.
"As they get older, you think his chances of winning one of these big races is slipping away, but he is a marvellous old horse.
"He's a nine-year-old and this is the best he's looked. As a younger horse he was a test but we never gave up on him.
"He's been in a few of these (two milers) and year in year out, every preparation, he gives us something to hope for.
"His run in the Tancred Stakes was unbelievable so we came here with a bit of confidence. You just need everything in your favour, it was the bob of the head and we thought we were beaten. Today was our day."
In a thrilling Sydney Cup finish, Who Shot Thebarman ($18) got up in the last stride to run down Zacada ($91) to win by a nose, with Sir Charles Road ($7) a length away third.
"I thought I had pinched it,''said Zacada's jockey Dean Holland.
" I was very upset to see that I got beat on the line. It was a good, tough effort and a great training performance."
Almandin ($3.70 favourite) struggled to get into the race under his 57kg impost and finished eighth.
"He ran well. It felt like he jarred up a bit late with those few runs on that firm ground,'' said Almandin's jockey Damien Oliver.
Japanese raider Pre Stwick was a shock scratching at the barriers. Jockey Joao Moreira wasn't happy with the stayer's action on the way to the barriers and after a veterinary inspection, the gelding was withdrawn.
Champion jockey Blake Shinn completed the rare Doncaster Mile-Sydney Cup double with his win on Who Shot Thebarman completing his success on Happy Clapper last week.
"What a thrilling finish, if there is every a horse that deserves to win a Sydney Cup it's him,'' Shinn said. "He's got a great group of owners that follow him around every year so this is for them, this is for the horse.
"It means a lot to me to be able to do it for those guys. They've stuck solid with me the last couple of years riding him and it's a massive thrill to be able to get him over the line today.
"I have to give credit to Chris Waller and his team getting Who Shot Thebarman to back up every year."
Who Shot Thebarman was contesting his fifth successive Sydney Cup and had previously run second to Grand Marshal (2015) and Polarisation (2017). He also ran fourth in 2016, and ninth in 2014.
Waller even joked The Barman was having his sixth start in a Sydney Cup, as the stayer completed the course in the sensational no-race last year, albeit riderless.
"The secret to The Barman is simple, look after your horse and he will look after you,'' Waller said.
"This horse loves his racing and he deserved this because he has been so close so many times.
"It was a great field to have a Melbourne Cup winner in the race, the Lloyd Williams stayers add a lot of clout to our staying races, horses from around the world and The Barman has got the job done.
"The owners deserved this win, too, as it was so heartbreaking for them when The Barman had be scratched on the eve of the Melbourne Cup last year with an elevated temperature."
Waller said he would set Who Shot Thebarman for another Melbourne Cup campaign later this year.
"I think the owners will leave no decision but for me to run him,'' Waller said. "Hopefully the handicapper gives him some relief.''