Group 1 101: Shraaoh’s Sydney Cup puts Waller on way to next century

The script had already been followed to perfection with Verry Elleegant's Oaks and the Winx finale that gave Chris Waller his 100th group 1 victory before Shraaoh delivered number 101 less an hour later.

After the emotion of the Winx farewell, Shraaoh's victory gave Waller a chance to pause and reflect on his own incredible journey from a small town kid from a dairy farm in New Zealand to one of Australian racing's greatest ever trainers.

Long time between drinks: Jay Ford claims his first group 1 in nine years, and Chris Waller’s 101st, on Shraaoh.Credit:AAP

"The first one was a lot harder than 101, I can tell you that," Waller said. "I think that is what does make me a little bit emotional, thinking back to trying to get off the mark and trying to get noticed – just like so many young trainers and as young sports people do around Australia and the world."

Waller quickly brought himself back down to earth and suggested he would waste no time chasing his next century of top level winners.

"We have had two other horses in the Sydney Cup that got beaten. I don't want to go off like a pork chop," he said. "Don't worry, I'll be very satisfied when I hop into bed tonight, and I will be the first one out of bed in the morning."

Shraaoh's win was Waller's fourth in the Sydney Cup after Stand To Gain (2011), Grand Marshall (2015) and Who Shot Thebarman last year. It also gave syndicator Australian Bloodstock — who had four runners in the race — another top-level staying success, while it was jockey Jay Ford's first group 1 since Monaco Consul won the 2009 Spring Champion Stakes.

"It has been more than nine long years between group 1s," Ford said.  "We have come close a few times. Fortunately I managed to pick up this fella on a lightweight and we got the job done."

“I’m just happy to prove to myself more than anything that I can still compete and get the job done. I had a wonderful horse underneath me to help me."

“His last few runs were very consistent without winning. He has got his head in front on the main day.”

Ford, best known for his association with champion sprinter Takeover Target, on which he won seven group 1s, rode a patient, ground-saving race on the six-year-old in a stop-start contest.

"It was very muddling tempo early and then a little bit of speed was injected," Ford said. "I was able to pinch runs along the fence from the half mile. I just needed something to move to give me a bit of a gap and it came. He is a good horse, he's certainly a good stayer and it was a deserved win as he has been racing consistently."

The winner was hitting form at the right time. He second in last Saturday's group 2 Chairman's Quality and was third in the group 3 Manion Cup before that, but Waller said it was the improved track conditions that had helped the former Sir Michael Stoute-trained lightweight most.

"The team in the northern hemisphere said he was twice the horse on a dry track and he proved that today,” said Waller, who has had the Sydney Cup in mind since the Shraaoh's first-up win over 2800m in a benchmark 96 support race on Melbourne Day last year.

“That gave us the confidence to know he was capable of winning a race like this," he said.

Shraaoh ($12) beat Vengeur Masque ($31) and Glory Days ($17), but the disappointment of the race was Godolphin's $4.40 favourite Dubhe, beaten more than seven lengths into 12th.

“He was sluggish out of the gates and he never travelled at all," said jockey Kerrin McEvoy. "I was forever trying to get him onto the bridle and he stayed on okay home but not quick enough through the first part.”

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