Trainer Chris Waller is hoping the retirement of Anamoe is a boon for his classy mare Fangirl as she chases an overdue, and some would say deserved, Group 1 win at Randwick on Saturday.
It’s been almost 17 months since Fangirl’s latest win, the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes in March last year, but in her four-year-old season she bumped into the Godolphin champ in five of her eight starts plus a freak in I Wish I Win.
If not for those two horses she’d have a Golden Eagle and three more Group 1s to her name.
Now five, Fangirl doesn’t have to concern herself with either rival but she still has a job to win the Group 1 $1 million Winx Stakes (1400m) against a field that boasts 14 individual Group 1 winners (including emergency King Colorado).
Waller hopes this can be Fangirl’s season, she was runner-up in last year’s Winx Stakes, and following an exhibition gallop with stablemate Lazzago last week likened her to Happy Clapper – who kept fronting up against Winx without success.
“She has come back well,’’ Waller said.
“She’s had a good couple of years without winning, mainly because of Anamoe. A bit like Happy Clapper.
“She’s a good horse and didn’t have much luck in a Doncaster, with the barrier and an awkward run. She likes good tracks so that will be key to her.”
Waller said a race like the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) in two weeks would be a logical step and the Group 1 $5m King Charles III Stakes (1600m) also appeals though an Epsom Handicap will be on the radar if she’s weighted to the trainer’s liking.
It’s unlikely to be a good track at Randwick on Saturday but one in the soft range wouldn’t harm the chances of any of Waller’s eight acceptors in the season’s first Group 1.
He’ll also saddle up Rosehill Guineas winner Lindermann, with Winx’s pilot Hugh Bowman on board, emerging star Osipenko, new addition Montefilia, stayer Francesco Guardi and imported mares Going Global and Princess Grace.
Going Global had an exhibition gallop between races at Canterbury on Wednesday, five days after a barrier trial on her home track.
Waller is excited about the spring ahead for Lindermann, who won a gallop with stablemate El Bodegon at Rosehill last weekend, though he has his work cut out from a wide barrier.
He outgunned Pericles to win the Rosehill Guineas before finishing unplaced in the Doncaster but caught everyone’s eye with his recent Canterbury trial win.
“He’s developed well, I think he will just improve,’’ Waller said.
“He was a bit unlucky not to have won a Randwick Guineas, he muscled his way to win a Rosehill Guineas, that’s the fighting qualities he has, and before that he won over 1400m.
“In my eyes he’s a genuine weight-for-age horse, hopefully a winning weight-for-age horse.
“It’s a good starting point. At the moment he’s in between a handicapper and a weight-for-age horse.”
The autumn was hardly a smooth one for Osipenko, Waller was behind the eight ball after missing the Randwick Guineas with a temperature but he ended it on a high downing Pericles in the Frank Packer Plate.
Waller said the four-year-old, who shares early Epsom favouritism with Pericles, has the right attributes to be competitive first-up at 1400m.
“He’s a similar horse to Lindermann, just a bit sharper,’’ he said.
“He’s more of a miler whereas Lindermann will get out to 2000m.
“I think he’s a genuine Group 1 winner, he arguably should have won a Caulfield Guineas and he struck a wet track, which he didn’t like, in the Doncaster.”
The 13-time Sydney premiership winner has won the Winx Stakes, formerly Warwick Stakes, six times including three with the champion mare.
– Racing NSW