Chris Waller claimed a major Group 1 double on Day 2 of The Championships at Randwick with Hungry Heart and Selino.
Hungry Heart, a daughter of Juddmonte Farms’ Frankel, is now arguably the best three-year-old staying filly in Australia following her success in AUD$1m The Star Australian Oaks on Saturday.
The Chris Waller-trained Yulong-bred and owned filly was completing a Group 1 double after her previous win in the Vinery Stud Stakes over 1 mile 2 furlongs.
“When you have a Frankel filly winning an Australian Oaks, it’s pretty special,” acknowledged her handler Chris Waller.
Hungry Heart, winner of the Group 2 Sweet Embrace Stakes as a juvenile, gave her conditioner a 123rd Group 1 success and his fourth victory in the Australian Oaks, while for jockey Kerrin McEvoy it was a 79th victory at the highest level.
Settled in fifth place, one off the rail, Hungry Heart moved into contention on the home stretch, before going on to claim a one-and-a-quarter length win over Duais, with New Zealand-bred Bargain in third with the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks winner Amarelinha next in fourth place.
Discussing the winner, Chris Waller said:
“All credit to her to be running in the early two-year-old races and now coming back with not only an Oaks, but two Group Ones in the space of a couple of weeks. She’s matured with age, which you’d expect. She was a little on her toes as a two-year-old, just a baby learning what it is all about. As a three-year-old now, only 12 months later she’s really matured into a relaxed beautiful horse to work with.”
Prior to winning the Vinery Stakes on her last outing, Hungry Heart had won the Group 2 Sweet Embrace Stakes over 6 furlongs in February 2020, before finishing runner-up in the Group 2 Furious Stakes over the same distance, the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes over 7 furlongs, and the Group 1 Flight Stakes over a mile.
Though her Classic season started with a seventh and eighth place finish respectively in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes over 6 furlongs and the Group 1 Surround Stakes over a furlong further, Waller’s filly showed she had found some of her juvenile form when taking the Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes over seven-and-a-half furlongs.
The Australian Oaks was Yulong’s third Group 1 success in Australia, with two of the victories being provided by Hungry Heart and the other, the 2020 Kennedy Cantala Stakes, by Yulong Prince.
Selino won a fourth AUD$2m Schweppes Sydney Cup for Chris Waller as the former James Fanshawe-trained son of Champs Elysees handed his sire a fifth Group 1 winner and second in Australia – Harlem being his only previous Australian Group 1 victor.
Previously trained in England where he achieved two successes as well as a runner-up spot in the Group 2 Doncaster Cup (2m 2f) in September 2020, the gelding was eighth on his first appearance for Waller in October’s Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup.
The 5-year-old finished in the same position in the Listed Parramatta Cup, sixth in the Listed Randwick City Cup, fifth in the Group 3 Manion Cup and fourth in the Group 2 Chairman’s Quality.
“We had confidence in the horse,” Waller said. “He was sent to me in very good form. The owners might’ve lost a bit of confidence in me when they saw him going around and running in 2000 metre (1m 2f) races and 2600 metre (1m 5f) races, but we’ve said all along, ‘Stick to the confidence of running in this race.’ He’s an extreme-distance horse, and he certainly showed it today.”
Selino, who gave his Queensland-based jockey Ronnie Stewart a first Group 1 victory, showed an impressive turn of foot at the end of the long distance race to hold off Rondinella by a length and a quarter with Group 1 winner Miami Bound the same distance back in third.
Thirty-seven year old Stewart, champion apprentice jockey in Sydney in 2002-03 before riding successfully in Singapore, Mauritius and Macau, said of his first Australian Group 1 success:
“He was a tough ride, but it kept unfolding nicely for us. It certainly wasn’t easy, he was quite strong throughout, but I could see in his replays that he has done that in the past. But when I pulled out down the side with about 1000 metres (5f) to go, I still had plenty of horse there.”
New Zealand-born Australian-based trainer Chris Waller, who previously won the 2 mile Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup with Grand Marshal (2015), Who Shot Thebarman (2018) and Shraaoh (2019), has confirmed that Selino will now have the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (2 miles) at Flemington Racecourse in November as his main season target.
Photo: Courtesy of Chris Waller Racing (cwallerracing.com)