By Nicholas Godfrey
Australia: Leading Sydney-based trainer Chris Waller, who spurned successive opportunities to run the legendary Winx at Royal Ascot, is planning a twin assault on the royal meeting this year with sprint stars Yes Yes Yes and Nature Strip.
Waller is targeting the Diamond Jubilee Stakes with Everest hero Yes Yes Yes, while triple Group 1 winner Nature Strip is set to head for the King’s Stand.
Partly owned by the Coolmore team, the three-year-old Yes Yes Yes broke the track record for 1,200 metres (6f) at Randwick with a half-length victory from Santa Ana Lane in the third edition of the TAB Everest, the world’s richest turf race at Randwick in September. With a total prize fund of A$14m (£7.35m), the Everest is the richest turf contest in the world.
“Yes Yes Yes is going very well,” said Waller, speaking to AAP Racing. “He’s come back a stronger, more mature three-year-old. He is due to trial on the 21st and will resume either in the Eskimo Prince or the Lightning.
“I have to work out what weight he is likely to get in the Newmarket but the TJ Smith Stakes is a definite target,” added the trainer, who saddled Brazen Beau to finish second in the Diamond Jubilee in 2015. “The TJ seems the logical last run in Australia before I prepare him for Ascot.”
Nature Strip was fourth in the Everest before landing his third G1 success with an impressive effort in the Darley Sprint Classic at Flemington in November. The five-year-old is expected to return to action in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington on February 15 before being set for Royal Ascot.
With G1 winners such as Sunlight, Brutal and Exceedance also being mentioned in despatches for this year’s royal meeting, hopes will be high the nation can end a drought dating back to Black Caviar’s nerve-shredding Diamond Jubilee triumph in 2012.
Meanwhile, Waller-trained Kolding, the new star of the Aussie scene thanks to victories in the Epsom Handicap and the inaugural A$7.5m Golden Eagle, is likely to target another lucrative prize in the second running of the All-Star Mile at Caulfield on March 14. With a prize fund of A$5m, the race is the world’s richest mile race, with a field determined by votes from fans.