Trainer Chris Waller will unleash an arsenal of six fillies as he chases the Queensland Derby-Oaks double this Friday night at Brisbane’s Eagle Farm racecourse. Tune-in to TVG or stream on the new Sky Racing World App (First Post: 9:29pm ET / 6:29pm PT).
After Chris Waller captured last week’s G1 Queensland Derby with Kukeracha (spoiling Explosive Jack’s bid for a fourth derby win), the master conditioner set his sights on Friday night’s G1 Oaks. Regardless of how many Group 1 trophies Waller accumulates – his current total is a whopping 126 – he will forever be synonymous with the storied career of Winx (AUS). The Queensland Oaks was the first of Winx’s 25 Group 1 successes and the second win in her unforgettable streak of 33. The 1-3/8 miles of the Queensland Oaks was also the longest distance at which the great mare was victorious and Waller has won the race twice since. In search of a fourth Queensland Oaks, he will pack the same numerical punch that saw him train six of the first eight finishers in last week’s Derby.
The Waller sextet is led by Grace and Harmony (NZ) (5-1), who enjoyed a change of fortune at the post position draw (3). The filly was given a “negative” ride, tactically, from a wide alley when sixth as the favorite two weeks ago in The Roses, the key local prep which has produced 12 of the last 20 Queensland Oaks winners. Waller still won The Roses with 15-1 shot Only Words, who is about half those odds (7-1) this Friday and has a wide gate with which to contend. Splitting that pair in wagering is Charms Star (NZ) (6-1), who was third in The Roses in her Australian debut after placing in the New Zealand Oaks. Waller is also represented by Easifar (NZ) and Signora Nera (NZ) (each 16-1) and 100-1 shot Ruru (AUS).
For all the headlines that Chris Waller naturally generates, he doesn’t train the Oaks favorite. Future book wagering had been headed by Duais (AUS), who lost favoritism to Bargain (NZ) as a result of the post position draw. The pair bring strong formlines from the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival: Duais led a 1-2 finish in a Group 2 race, then a 2-3 finish in the G1 Australian Oaks during The Championships at Randwick.
Duais could become the first Group 1 winner in the fledgling career of a fourth-generation trainer with royal racing bloodlines. Thiry-five-year-old Edward Cummings is a brother of James (Godolphin’s private trainer in Australia), son of Anthony (with whom Edward trained in partnership before going solo in 2019), grandson of Bart (trainer of a record 12 Melbourne Cup winners) and great-grandson of Jim (who trained the 1950 Melbourne Cup winner). Edward named his stables Myrtle Lodge, in honor of a horse that Jim Cummings rode to victory in 1910 before taking out the training license that would launch a great racing dynasty. Bart Cummings, the “Cups King,” had a checkered history with the Queensland Oaks, winning it only once (in 1987) and saddling the favorite in 2010, Dariana, who sensationally had her head in an adjacent stall when the gates opened and took no part.
Edward Cummings is forthright in his conviction that Duais is “the benchmark 3-year-old staying filly,” rating her second in the Australian Oaks the best performance in the race. He has elected to train Duais up to this Friday night’s assignment, giving his filly an unusually long (by Australian standards) seven weeks between runs. After riding Duais in a May 13 trial (training race), jockey Hugh Bowman said “Just go straight to the Oaks. She is in a great frame of mind and is a natural staying filly.” However, after drawing post 12 in the 14-horse field, Duais (5-1) was displaced for favoritism by Bargain (7-2). The well-named daughter of Shopaholic is trained by an in-form Mark Newnham, who saddled Spirit Ridge to win a Group 3 race last week. Bargain has raced since the Australian Oaks, finishing 2nd in The Roses.
Queensland’s “Winter Racing Carnival” continues next Friday night with a tantalizing card, whose two Group 1 races might be overshadowed by the sport’s newest star contesting a new race. Zaaki (GB) has exited his record-breaking G1 Doomben Cup win in excellent order and will line up in the Q22, a new event that currently carries Group 2 status but boasts an alluring $1.2 million purse. Zaaki, whose opposition is likely to include the aforementioned Spirit Ridge, promises to be a massive drawcard on a day that features the G1 Stradbroke Handicap at seven furlongs and the G1 J.J. Atkins Stakes at a mile for 2-year-olds.
The Eagle Farm card will be broadcast live on TVG this Friday night (First Post: 9:29pm ET / 6:29pm PT) alongside cards from Rosehill, Newcastle and Gold Coast. All races will be live-streamed in HD on the new Sky Racing World App, skyracingworld.com and major ADW platforms such as TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet,NYRABets, WatchandWager, HPIbet, and AmWager. Wagering is also available via these ADW platforms. Fans can get free access to live-streaming, past performances and expert picks on all races at skyracingworld.com.
About Michael Wrona
A native of Brisbane, Australia, Michael Wrona has called races in six countries. Michael’s vast U.S. experience includes; race calling at Los Alamitos, Hollywood Park, Arlington and Santa Anita, calling the 2000 Preakness on a national radio network and the 2016 Breeders’ Cup on the International simulcast network. Michael also performed a race call voiceover for a Seinfeld episode called The Subway.