The lure of a one million purse has been too attractive for leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller.
The expat Kiwi horseman will line-up three runners in the A$1 million The Gong at Kembla Grange on Saturday, including the Trelawney Stud-bred gelding Star Of The Seas.
Waller opted for the race over a trip to Perth with two of his runners, citing the reduced risks involved with racing closer to home.
“The beauty with million dollar races is you can see them coming a fair way out and two of our horses would have normally been in Perth, Mister Sea Wolf and Star Of The Seas,” he said.
“We have decided to stay home to support New South Wales racing and support our own pockets - running for big prize money with less costs and risks involved with the horses travelling.
“That is the reason why Star Of The Seas and Mister Sea Wolf are there, and Asterius is giving his owners the chance to race for $1 million.”
Waller is favouring the chances of Group One performer Star Of The Seas, who ran third behind compatriots Kolding and Te Akau Shark in the Gr.1 Epsom Handicap (1600m).
The Epsom has proven to be a strong form race, with Kolding subsequently winning the A$7.5 million Golden Eagle (1500m), while Te Akau Shark ran third in the Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m).
“It’s good form (from the Epsom), and it’s good to see these form lines carrying on further into the spring,” Waller said.
Star Of The Seas finished midfield in the Gr.1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last start and Waller said he can be forgiven for the run.
“Forget his last run in Melbourne, I am putting that down to racing left-handed.
“He’s back to right-handed and that is the only bad run he has had of his career, so I am hoping he can bounce back.”
The Ocean Park gelding will be partnered by in-form jockey Glen Boss, who rode Kolding, another son of Ocean Park, to victory in the Epsom and Golden Eagle.
“Glen Boss knows his way around town for a big race,” Waller said.
Star Of The Seas is raced by one of Waller’s longest-standing clients, Tony Muollo, a prominent figure in the fishing industry who purchased him privately from Trelawney Stud.
The Waller-Muollo combination dates back to the nineties, with another galloper also by the name of Star Of The Seas, a winner of five races, one of the early success stories for Waller when he made the bold move from Foxton in New Zealand to Rosehill.
“Tony has been my biggest supporter right from day one. He brought my first horse, Party Belle, over here,” Waller said.
Trelawney Stud will also be represented by New Zealand Bloodstock graduates Gundown and Savaheat in the Listed Ballarat Cup (2000m) while closer to home Campari will contest the Listed Counties Bowl (1100m) at Pukekohe. – NZ Racing Desk