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Waller takes Ranvet path Via Haggas blueprint



Image: Steve Hart

‘Her form makes me smile’: trainer Chris Waller is looking forward to the Australian debut of Via Sistina.

Rival UK trainer William Haggas has been a thorn in the side of Chris Waller in recent seasons, so in typical Waller fashion he has used it as a learning opportunity.

Haggas has masterminded wins in three of the past four renewals of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Addeybb (2020-21) relegating Waller’s star mare Verry Elleegant to second twice, while the Haggas-trained Dubai Honour (2023) upstaged allcomers last year.

Haggas has also won two of the past four Ranvet Stakes with the same horses, both getting the job done fresh out of quarantine and both at their first runs since contesting the Champions Stakes at Ascot the previous spring.

Waller makes no secret of his admiration for Haggas and he has been openly monitoring the Englishman’s success and his methods.

This year he has decided to adopt them for his latest import Via Sistina.

Not only has Waller identified a horse with the right form lines- the mare having finished second in the Champions Stakes at Ascot in October – he has also had her trained for her autumn assignments at Newmarket prior to boarding the plane.

As such, Via Sistina arrives at Saturday’s Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill having exited quarantine in the past week and leaving Waller to apply only the finishing touches.

“I have kept a close eye on what Mr Haggas has done with a few of his horses, which have beaten Verry Elleegant a couple of times,” Waller said.

“He just gets it right every year.

“Firstly, he brings the right horse, with form. Secondly, he prepares them well and thirdly they cope with the trip.

“She looks like she is that type of horse. If she brings that (European) form, it will be exciting.”

Via Sistina boasts an outstanding resume in Europe, winning the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes (2011m) in July and finishing runner-up at her past two starts in elite company.

Her most recent second was behind King Of Steel, a horse Waller knows well.

“I’ve been lucky enough to see King Of Steel race in person a couple of times, he’s the real deal,” Waller said.

“Arguably she should have beaten him last start on a softish track, same distance (as the Ranvet Stakes).

“Her form is unbelievable. Her form makes me smile.”

Waller will have a strong hand in the Ranvet with Via Sistina’s stablemate Buckaroo also expected to provide some stiff opposition for favourite Think It Over.

While his form in Europe isn’t quite as deep as his barn mate’s, he is in his second Australian campaign and has been specifically targeted at Saturday’s race.

“I’m hoping Via Sistina doesn’t spoil his party because that’s the race he has been set for,” Waller said.

“What these European horses have got at the moment is they’re coming into their spring, and although Buckaroo has been here since the (last Australian) spring, they still go on that same (European) spring timezone.

“So Via Sistina’s coat is just coming through beautifully, and his is too.

“He showed enough speed to be competitive first-up over 1400, now he’s going to 2000 and it will be right up his alley.”


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