The spring and autumn still take pride of place on the Australian racing calendar but champion trainer Chris Waller says the carnival period virtually has no end.
And that suits him just fine.
Speaking after The Elanora’s impressive performance in Saturday’s De Bortoli Wines Handicap (1800m) at Rosehill, Waller confirmed the three-year-old would head north for the Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Eagle Farm on Boxing Day.
The race was recently moved to Brisbane’s summer carnival after traditionally being held as a Queensland Derby lead up in the winter.
While many trainers are still getting used to the new timeslot, Waller says it suits his team to have attractive black-type targets year-round.
“Australia is becoming one big carnival now and we’re pretty lucky from that perspective,” Waller said.
“You need to train a bit differently and keep your horses up a bit longer and it suits my style.”
The Elanora is raced by flamboyant businessman John Singleton, whose racing manager Duncan Grimley is keen to get The Elanora in to the Australian Derby.
It would be an untraditional preparation but one not without precedent.
Shoot Out finished runner-up in a Group Three race at Doomben on Boxing Day and returned to win the 2010 Australian Derby the following autumn.
Grimley pointed this out to Waller, who trained Shoot Out to three Group One victories, albeit later in his career.
“Duncan Grimley is a great form student and he said to me, ‘you won a Derby with Shoot Out off a similar preparation, he ran on Boxing Day as well and still managed to stay up for the Derby’,” Waller said.
“I said, ‘I didn’t train Shoot Out then’ and he said, ‘oh well, at least you know it can be done’.”
The Elanora ($3.30 fav) backed up his win in the Group Three Spring Stakes at Newcastle to make it two in a row at Rosehill, downing stablemate Kukeracha ($10) by two lengths.
The victory gave Waller an early double after he took out the opening race with the Magic Millions Guineas-bound Oscar Zulu.
Having his first race ride on The Elanora, James McDonald was taken by the grand-son of former champion mare Tuesday Joy.
“He’s a beautiful horse,” McDonald said.
“Personally, I think he’s pretty untapped. They haven’t even got close to the bottom of him.”