George Main Stakes: Chris Waller finds key to Kolding and why a Melbourne spring is off the radar

Chris Waller prepared another Royal Randwick Group 1 mile “first four” when Kolding led home a stable quartet on Saturday.

Imaging held off stablemates Star Of The Seas, Imaging and Verry Elleegant to win the Group 1 $500,000 George Main Stakes (1600m).

This was the second occasion the champion trainer has had the first four placegetters in a major Randwick 1600m race. Waller prepared Sacred Falls to beat stablemates Royal Descent, Weary and Hawkspur in the 2014 Doncaster Mile.

Kolding gave Waller his seventh win in the George Main Stakes and his 113th Group 1 win of his career — and it all began for the trainer with his breakthrough major coming in a Randwick mile when Triple Honour won the 2008 Doncaster Handicap.

“The mile at Randwick is a great distance, you can stretch the sprinters out to a mile and keep the stayers fresh for this trip, you can encourage three-year-olds to run the mile,’’ Waller said.

“It’s a true test for the top horses and this is a great race because at this time of the year it is a fork in the road to go to so many of the good spring races.’’

This applies to Waller’s four George Main placegetters with Kolding enhancing his reputation as a Randwick mile specialist and returning to his best form from last spring when he won the Epsom Handicap-Golden Eagle double.

Tommy Berry and Kolding combine to win the George Main Stakes.Source:Getty Images

Kolding ($9.50), ridden by Tommy Berry, held off the late surge of Star Of The Seas ($12) to win by a long neck with Imaging ($9.50) a long head away third. Verry Elleegant ($2.20 favourite) was just over a length away in fourth placing.

Waller is undecided about whether to commit Kolding to an Epsom Handicap defence in the Group 1 $1 million Randwick 1600m race on October 3 but he was more definite about plans for Star Of The Seas, Imaging and Verry Ellegant.

Kolding won his first race since the Golden Eagle last spring but Waller maintained the five-year-old has been racing without luck.

“To be fair it is the first time right-handed on a dry track which he needs,’’ Waller said. “He doesn’t like the left-handed way of going, it was a disaster in Melbourne during the autumn.

“He still ran very well with a big weight in the Doncaster, that was his last good run, then we went one run too far (Queen Elizabeth Stakes). First up was just too wet and he has bounced back with his last two runs.”

Kolding prefers the right-handed way of going and hard tracks.Source:Getty Images

Kolding has 56.5kg in the Epsom and Waller is worried that is “too much weight”.

“He’s not really a chance to go to Melbourne so he might go to the Epsom,’’ the trainer said.

“But we don’t need to panic, he’s not really an Everest horse but we will keep everything open for Kolding.’’

Waller said Star Of The Seas and Imaging showed they are right on track for the Everest while Verry Elleegant is likely to run next in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.

“Star Of The Seas has been beaten by a good horse in Kolding,’’ Waller said. “Imaging has gone great again, Star Of The Seas is the form handicapper and Imaging couldn’t quite knock him off.

Chris Waller says a spring campaign in Melbourne is not on the table for Kolding.Source:Getty Images

“As for Verry Elleegant, when they are running 1m 33.3s and she is caught up when they sprint for home, it can be tricky. She got her head up a bit when she loses her action and has to rush. She is at her best when she has the freedom to get rolling and can do her thing. I would say it will be Turnbull Stakes for her.’’

Berry won his first major since Pierata in the 2019 All Aged Stakes and took his career Group 1 tally to 29 on Kolding.

“It was good to see him return to form, dry tracks have been a big help to him,’’ Berry said. “I think Chris Waller is just nursing him back to his best form.

Tommy Berry after taking out the George Main Stakes.Source:Getty Images

“He’s usually better ridden with a bit of cover, but we found a race today where it was only going to end up one way and that was him being outside Dreamforce.

“But he switched off really well for me and gave him the chance to finish strongly at the end. He’s an honest, tough horse.’’

Spare a thought for Sam Clipperton, rider of Star Of The Seas. The jockey has had 10 Group 1 second placings since his last major on English in the 2016 All Aged Stakes, as well as a string of minor placings in feature race this spring including successive Group 1 second placings on Star Of The Seas in the Winx Stakes and George Main Stakes

“What else can I say about him, he’s a star,’’ Clipperton said of Star Of The Seas. “Buyt he was just a bit stiff today.”

AT THE TRACK

With Matt Jones

RECOGNITION FOR OUR LEGENDS?

One of the feature races at Randwick on Saturday was the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes. See the problem here? One of the greatest horses to ever race in Sydney only has a Group 3 named in his honour. Phar Lap and Tulloch also can’t get a Group 1.

“It’s a good point. I never looked at it like that but it makes a lot of sense to give them Group 1s,” said trainer John O’Shea said.

“We’ve named a Group 1 after Winx and she’s probably the greatest horse we’ve ever had but those horses are of a similar ilk and deserve that status.

“There’s a bloke called Peter V’landys who resolves everything in racing and maybe he could try and resolve that as well.”

Perhaps Kingston Town should get the Group 1 George Main Stakes, which he won twice, and his 2000m Group 3 given to George Main? Bart Cummings doesn’t have a Group 1. It’s laughable.

Phar Lap died in 1932 and can’t get a Group 1 yet Winx and Black Caviar both got one while still racing.

KING OF THE CASTLE

This column said a few weeks ago that Rachel King was one of the best jockeys in the Sydney room, male or female, and she’s come of age since winning the Group 1 Spring Champions Stakes on Maid Of Heaven in 2018.

“More often than not I’m the only girl in those big Group 1s and I don’t think of myself as being a female jockey anymore,” she said.

“That’s always been something to aim for. Mark Newnham says I’m not a female jockey but just a jockey and for a girl that’s what we want.”

Gytrash arrived back in Clare Cunningham’s Warwick Farm stables (where he is temporarily living while in Sydney) after spending 12 days at Aquagait Equine Centre on the water walker following his defeat of Nature Strip in the Concorde Stakes a fortnight ago. He will trial 10 days out from The Everest and run in the Inglis slot.

MUGATOO WIN DEDICATED TO DAD

Kris Lees finally got his Newcastle Cup win when Mugatoo proved too strong for his rivals on Friday.

The champion trainer said “cheers Max” after the race in honour of his late father.

When Kolding flopped first-up two runs back in the Winx Stakes Chris Waller said “Don’t worry we’ll get him back” and the master trainer was right.

ROHERYN IN ALL SORTS OF TROUBLE

Punters who backed Roheryn would have been tearing up their tickets early when he was well back in last place approaching the turn in the Bill Ritchie under Jason Collett.

“He actually over raced in the mid-section from the 1000m,” Collett said.

“I only just get him back at the same time the pace quickens and it went from one extreme to the next.” A post-race veterinary examination revealed he had cardiac arrhythmia.

HORSES TO FOLLOW

Verry Elleegant (don’t back off), Classique Legend (Everest ready) Miravalle (Flight Stakes)

ONES TO SACK

Every Rose (not up to it), Reloaded (had enough)

RIDE OF THE DAY

Tim Clark on Taikomochi (well judged all the way)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Don’t know how you blokes were beating Dirty Work, it’s got me beat,” said Les Bridge after Classique Legend’s win.

The Racing League: How it works

The Racing League’s inaugural season will see Billy Slater’s Queensland Rogues taking on Laurie Daley’s New South Wales Tycoons, Shane Crawford’s Vic Husslers and Brittany Taylor’s Black Hearts from Western Australia.

Originally published asHow Waller put the kapow back into Kolding

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