KEITH NOLAN CLASSIC
He's got the might of the Ingham racing empire and entrepreneur Gerry Harvey behind him, but Chris Waller remains cautious whether Royal Descent and Hoybell are ready to win the Illawarra Mercury Keith Nolan Classic (1600 metres) tomorrow.
Sydney's premier trainer predicted both would win black-type races before their racing days are over - even if it's not to be Kembla Grange's Sensational Sunday feature.
"You can never get too confident with horses that are racing out of their grade, but she's a nice horse," Waller said of Royal Descent, an eye-catcher in her first two career starts.
"Whether she gets it this prep or next I'm not sure, but I think she'll definitely get to this level without too much trouble.
"She's just one prep behind those good horses and because of that it makes it hard. Her run first time in that grade was very good."
Waller was referring to the Surround Stakes (1400m), where Royal Descent steadily worked home in fourth behind Dear Demi.
Longport, a Keith Nolan rival tomorrow, was only a length ahead of Royal Descent, who is favoured by a three-kilogram swing in the weights on the Patinack filly from that start.
Hoybell looms as much more than a second-stringer for Waller in the race after scrambling home against the older horses at Newcastle last start.
"She's done everything right," Waller said.
"She's won over the distance, and likewise she'll at least be a Saturday winner and probably a Listed winner.
"It just depends whether she does it this prep or not. I just think that's the time of year we're at. There's some proven horses and then there's a new group of horses that have been set for this time of year that are still improving.
"You're getting a combination of two different formlines and everything starts to come together."