Waller Bullish About Queensland Derby Favourite

Chris Waller is satisfied he pulled the right rein in running Kovalica against the older horses in the Doomben Cup, fearing the odds-on Queensland Derby favourite might have otherwise gone into the Classic underdone.

The exciting stayer missed a run in the Rough Habit Plate (2000m) two weeks ago due to a foot abscess, prompting Waller to start him in last weekend’s Group 1 contest where Kovalica finished an outstanding third.

It was the three-year-old’s first foray into weight-for-age racing and not only did he pass with flying colours, Waller said it was the bridge the horse needed to be ready for Saturday’s 2400m feature.

“He has come through the run well, he looks fantastic and has drawn to get the perfect run,” Waller said.

“I am pleased I ran him in the Doomben Cup, otherwise I would have questioned his fitness levels.

“But we can now go into the race confident that we have a very fit horse in what will be a tough staying test.”

Waller also has third favourite Special Swey, who staked his Derby claims with a tough win in the Rough Habit Plate.

That came at the former New Zealander’s Australian debut and Waller said the gelding had continued to thrive in Queensland and had the gate speed to overcome a wide draw.

“He has drawn a tricky gate but that shouldn’t really worry his style of racing,” Waller said.

“Gee he is a tough horse, and I would expect him to stay the 2400-metre journey really well.”

The champion horseman also has a strong hand in the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) with Chrysaor ($5) and the improving Armed Forces ($9).

Chrysaor earned a trip north with a stunning first-up win at Gosford where he swept home from back in the field, while Armed Forces beat all but Cifrado at his Queensland debut in the Champagne Classic.

Both are typical of the later-maturing juveniles Waller has previously campaigned successfully in Brisbane and he expects them to develop into spring carnival horses, although Chrysaor shapes as his leading light on Saturday from his rails draw, while Armed Forced has barrier 14.

“He (Chrysaor) always showed us last preparation that he was going to need a bit more time, but to come back the way he did really showed that he is going to be a force as a late two-year-old and on to his three-year-old year,” Waller said.

“I would expect him to be very hard to beat from barrier one.”

– RAS NewsWire

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