Chris Waller (Credit:

Sydney Premierships – Waller, McDonald rule the roost

July 31st 2019

A new Group I benchmark, a record nationwide haul and a ninth successive Sydney trainers premiership put an exclamation mark on another fine season for Chris Waller.

The 2018/19 season wrapped up on Wednesday at Warwick Farm as the Kiwi-born trainer was unsurprisingly celebrating another dominant twelve months in racing.

With each passing year more records seem to tumble.

The champion horseman broke the record for most Group Is in a season, thanks in large part to the exploits of superstars Winx and The Autumn Sun.

In June he recorded a record 18th Group I for the season when Invincibella claimed the Tatts Tiara in Queensland.

It’s the seventh consecutive time Waller has won more Group Is than any other Australian stable and tops his tally of 13 from twelve months ago.

Waller chalked up a new personal best nationwide after recording 339 wins for the campaign, one more than last season.

His ninth Sydney premiership has been a mere formality for quite some time.

While his impressive haul 172 metro wins is 17 less than his all-time win record of 189 last season it had him clear of his nearest rival James Cummings (99 wins).

“There is so many highlights throughout the season and I feel proud knowing that our big team, the staff, the owners, that all that hard work does get justified,” Waller said.

“Whether a winner at the provincials or a winner in a Group I race for one of the best horses in the world, it is smiles all round and justification for a lot of hard work.

“Whether it is a nice premiership or 18th Group I win, they are all pretty good.”

Meanwhile, James McDonald didn’t ride in Sydney at all over the final two months of the season but his buffer in the jockeys’ premiership was already far too great.

The Kiwi hoop only returned from a lengthy betting suspension in May last year but enjoyed a superb comeback season where he notched up 104 metro wins.

The century haul saw McDonald finish clear of Tommy Berry (77 wins).

“I didn’t even think riding 100 city winners was possible to be fair and the premiership wasn’t a goal,’’ McDonald told Racenet last week.

“I was more focused on getting back on my feet this first season and trying to finish in the top three, I thought that was a realistic goal.

“But I’ve worked hard throughout the year and I’ve had amazing support.”

Like McDonald, apprentice Robbie Dolan was absent at the final meeting of the season as he took a well-earned break back in Ireland.

Dolan had 48 city winners to become Sydney’s champion apprentice for the first time but was pipped by Blaike McDougall in the statewide premiership.

McDougall edged Dolan 94 to 92-1/2 in NSW wins while Veteran country hoop Greg Ryan (167-1/2 wins) lead all jockeys in the state.  

– Mitch Cohen,