Winning blueprint: the A4 paper that contains Chris Waller’s keys to Caulfield Cup success
By Damien Ractliffe
Chris Waller knows the formula required to get his horses to peak on Caulfield Cup day, and he can feel a “special performance” coming from one of his runners this year.
On Saturday, he saddles up Soulcombe, Francesco Guardi and Montefilia, three live chances aiming to emulate the feats of Waller’s previous winners, Verry Elleegant (2020) and Durston (2022), but Soulcombe is the one he’s most excited about.
Chris Waller knows what it takes to win a Caulfield Cup.Credit: Getty Images
A track gallop on Tuesday gave Waller the final piece of insight he required to declare Soulcombe – part-owned by Richmond footballers Jack Riewoldt, Tom Lynch and Jayden Short – ready to explode.
Now, luck has to go their way.
Craig Williams, James McDonald and Blake Shinn have been assigned the respective rides on the trio of stayers for Waller, who has made a habit of having multiple runners in the Caulfield Cup each year.
The Sydney maestro will enter the mounting yard pre-race on Saturday, and take out a piece of A4 paper, detailed with instructions for each of his riders. Then they’ll be sent off to go and execute.
Richmond footballers Tom Lynch, Jayden Short and Jack Riewoldt, part-owners of Soulcombe, after watching trackwork this week.Credit: Getty Images
“Plenty of work goes into speed maps, tactics, how other horses will be ridden, what other horses there are to follow, but I think the key is not overcomplicating things,” said Waller.
“That’s why we like to book the best jockeys we can, jockeys who are cool and collected in terms of big races. I’m happy with the three riders we’ve got, they’re big race winners and that makes my job a lot easier.”
Routine is important.
Williams didn’t ride Soulcombe in Tuesday’s track gallop at Caulfield. Instead, it was Steven Arnold, an accomplished rider in his own right, who is Soulcombe’s regular track rider.
“[Arnold] was very pleased with the way the horse was moving, the wind – indicating his fitness – and he was very happy at Caulfield, getting on the right legs at the right time, which is important. Couldn’t be happier,” Waller said, when asked of Soulcombe’s workout.
“I was just going off his demeanour and to my eye he just wanted to charge to the line. Obviously, it’s more intense race day, but he was really letting go of his action. Last year he wasn’t such a willing horse, but now his whole attitude has changed.
“He had some good performances last year but to see what he’s doing now in his work suggests there’s a special performance coming.”
See today’s Saturday Age more racing coverage.
A chance of thunderstorms this afternoon
The BOM has forecast Melbourne will have a top temperature of 23 degrees today, so the conditions should be mild but there is also a 20 per cent chance of rain today and the chance of a thunderstorm this afternoon or early evening.
The BOM forecast for Melbourne as of 10.40am: Cloudy. Medium chance of showers in the southeast suburbs, slight chance elsewhere. The chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon and early evening. Winds north to northwesterly 25 to 35 km/h tending west to northwesterly 20 to 30 km/h in the middle of the day.
In it to win it: Star Tigers’ hopes riding high on Caulfield Cup favourite
By Peter Ryan
Richmond premiership teammates Jayden Short, Tom Lynch and the retired Jack Riewoldt were at Caulfield Racecourse at the crack of dawn on Tuesday.
They weren’t running laps.
Chris Waller (centre) discusses the Caulfield Cup chances of Soulcombe with part-owners, Richmond stars, Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt.Credit: Getty Images
With their phones capturing the action, they watched their horse, the five-year-old gelding Soulcombe, do his main trackwork ahead of Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.
“It was grouse. I was glad I went. It was pretty early. I asked Jack why they do it so early,” Short said.
The question, albeit one that’s not easily answered, reveals both Short’s enthusiasm and his willingness to admit he’s no Bart Cummings when it comes to matters of the turf.
The trackside conditions
John Allen chasing Caulfield Cup upset
As many eyes fixate on high-profile stayer Gold Trip, Irish jockey John Allen has his sights on an upset aboard one of the favourite’s stablemates in the $5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup.
Imported galloper Duke De Sessa has been geared towards the prestigious 2400m spring feature and has hardly put a hoof wrong in the lead-up to Saturday’s race.
The five-year-old, rated a $31 chance, has been overshadowed by fellow Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained stayer Gold Trip ($6).
Trainers David Eustace (l) and Ciaron Maher (r) hold a strong hand in the $5 million Caulfield Cup.
Soulcombe and West Wind Blows ($6.50) are on the second line of betting, as Without A Fight ($8) and Breakup ($9) round out the leading contenders.
But Allen is quietly confident of mounting a challenge after sitting on Duke De Sessa for the first time this week.
“He’s probably flown a little bit under the radar but hopefully he can step up to the mark on Saturday,” Allen told AAP.
“It is a very deep race and he’s going to have to step up a little on what he’s shown.
“But Ciaron and David are confident he can and he couldn’t have worked any better than what he did on Tuesday morning when I rode him.
“Going in we’re certainly very hopeful.”
Duke De Sessa won twice in as many starts over 2400m in Ireland and was sixth in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last time out.
The son of Lope de Vega out of Dark Crusader made steady ground from the back in his third Australian run and drops from 56kg to 53kg for the Caulfield Cup.
“I’m hoping that run has just topped him up and he’ll be cherry ripe for Saturday,” Allen said.
“All his runs have showed a bit of promise and there should be good improvement in him. I’m pretty confident he can run well.”
There are queries, however, with Duke De Sessa having to negotiate barrier 14 and a track that won’t present as ideal.
“They’ve always had a thought that he’s a little bit better on soft ground but he certainly couldn’t have felt any better on Tuesday,” Allen said.
“He was moving super and his action seemed good. I think he can handle it hopefully once it’s not rock hard.
“He’s probably going to balance up somewhere but a lot of the fancied ones will be around midfield or somewhere like that so I should be able to find the right back to follow.”
G’day and welcome to our Caulfield Cup Day 2023 live blog as one of the prime events of the spring racing carnival plays out at Caulfield racecourse.
We will have plenty of colour and fashion from the course and then the races across the day with the first race set for 12.15pm AEDT.
Enjoy the day to come.
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