Chris Waller pays emotional tribute to trainer Rick Worthington after Chelmsford Stakes

An emotional Chris Waller had just won his sixth Chelmsford Stakes with Mister Sea Wolf, led in the trifecta for good measure and recorded the 3000th winner of his training career — but it was the tragic passing of fellow trainer, Rick Worthington, that had moved him.

“It was a pretty special race wasn’t it,’’ Waller said. “All the trainers learned about half an hour ago and there was an air of silence.

“To lose a man like Rick at such a young age — too young.”

Worthington, who trained out of Warwick Farm, passed away on Saturday after a long battle with cancer. He was 60.

A widely respected horseman, Worthington trained a number of classy gallopers over the years including dual Group 2 winner Whitefriars and Honesty Prevails. His most recent city winner was Steal Diamond.

Rick Worthington was the first to help out if someone was doing it tough. @cwallerracing paid tribute to @RTW888 after learning of his passing moments before Mister Sea Wolf's win in the Chelmsford. Our thoughts are with Rick's family and everyone that is feeling his loss. pic.twitter.com/1LrUA3yLzc

“Rick was the first person to help if someone was doing it tough. He has done it tougher than anybody in the last few years but he’d be the last one to show it,’’ Waller said

“He was a tough man. That is how he will be remembered by all of us and so many others outside of racing that he will have touched throughout his life.

“At least we have won a race for him. It is a sad day.”

Waller’s touching tribute to Worthington came immediately after Mister Sea Wolf won the Group 2 $250,000 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Mister Sea Wolf’s win capped a remarkable day for Waller. He also prepared Jay Jay D’Ar to win the Randwick opener, Royal Marine won at Hawkesbury, Maddi Rocks at Doomben, Bellarine at the Gold Coast and Humidor won the Group 2 Feehan Stakes at Moonee Valley.

Trainer Rick Worthington died on Saturday after a long illness.Source:News Corp Australia

Those six wins across five different racetracks on Saturday enabled Waller to reach a career milestone of exactly 3000 career winners.

Mister Sea Wolf ($5), ridden by Nash Rawiller, scored a tough win by a head from stablemates Yulong Prince ($21) with Melbourne Cup hopeful Finche ($9) only a head away third.

Waller revealed that nine-year-old Mister Sea Wolf is the oldest horse he has in his stable.

“But Mister Sea Wolf is the healthiest,” Waller said of the veteran who scored his 12th career win at his 50th start and took his career earnings to $1.55 million.

“Today’s race looked to suit. He’d had the benefit of that first up run, he loves four weeks between runs and his next race will be in four weeks time in the Epsom Handicapp. It was a well deserved win.’’

Mister Sea Wolf picks up the win in a thrilling edition of the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes! pic.twitter.com/afF9zL6lzG

Mister Sea Wolf joins Waller’s honour roll of Chelsmford winners that includes Unforgotten (2018), Winx (2017), Hawkspur (2013-14) and Danleigh (2012).

Waller was also taken by the efforts of stayers Yulong Prince and Finche to finish in the placings.

“Yulong Prince went well and is heading towards The Metropolitan,’’ Waller said.

“I want him to go third-up into the Metrop as he’s a good horse fresh and we’ve got to try to keep him that way for his next two runs and give him his chance.”

Finche was having his first start since his close and luckless seventh in the Melbourne Cup last year and the giant chestnut looks set to be a real force in the major staying races this spring.

“I thought Finche went terrific,’’ Waller said.

Mister Sea Wolf gave Chris Waller his sixth win in the Chelmsford Stakes. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“Last year he won the Kingston Town Stakes after his Chelmsford run but just don’t know if he needs that run. It’s the Kingston Town or the Turnbull Stakes, or both.

“He was good in the Melbourne Cup last year when he didn’t get a lot of luck.

“He’s just had a soft autumn and the perfect ‘prep’ for a Melbourne Cup if we can get there but we have a long way to go.”

Waller noted that not many horses made ground from the back in the Chelmsford field so Godolphin Avilius produced an outstanding effort first-up with his fast finishing fourth.

“A great run,’’ said Kerrin McEvoy, rider of Avilius. “We just had to give away a bit from the barrier so it was a cracking first up run.”

AT THE TRACK

By Matt Jones

STRIP DEFEAT GOOD FOR EVEREST

Nature Strip’s loss in the Concorde Stakes was the best thing that could happen to The Everest. Had he come out and toweled them up, he would have been $1.50 in the big race and a bit of interest would’ve been lost. Now everyone in the picture gains a bit of hope. Mark Newnham said an odds-on pop wouldn’t be good for the race. “If we had an Everest when Black Caviar was around it probably would have been finished by now,” he said. Newnham’s Splintex ran well but was a little outclassed when fifth in the Concorde. But The Everest will give Newnham a better chance of winning a Group 1 with the Sntizel entire in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley which won’t contain Everest horses because it’s run six days later. “He’s still a colt so I’ll be talking up the Manikato if he goes there,” Newnham said.

*****

One person who didn’t care if Nature Strip ran second was the punter that plonked $20,000 on him at $1.12 to run in the first two in the Concorde.

Nature Strip, left, was no match for Gytrash in the Concorde Stakes. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

VALE RICK WORTHINGTON

Sad news hit the racing industry on Saturday with the passing of trainer Rick Worthington who had been battling illness for some time. Jockeys wore black armbands in the Chelmsford Stakes shortly after news came through to Randwick. He was a fine horseman who was greatly respected by his peers. “Toughest man I’ve ever met,” said Paul Messara.

BOSS GRILLED

Stewards adjourned in inquiry into Glen Boss’s ride on well-backed favourite Icebath in the last at Randwick on Saturday. Stewards grilled the three-time Melbourne Cup winner about his tactics on the $3.20 favourite who settled further back than expected. “I wanted to be in the first five from the good draw but I struggled to keep up,” Boss said. Stewards then wondered why Boss didn’t get going earlier on the Brad Widdup-trained mare. “There didn’t appear to be any urgency to get out and start riding around the turn,” chief steward Marc Van Gestel said. “When I got to the 500m mark, she hit a flat spot and she wasn’t towing me into the race,” Boss said. The Fire Trap proved to be a nuisance when Boss came off the heels of Mirra Vision to make his run at the top of the rise and Icebath was tightened for room. “I’m riding her to her best assets and that’s her closing finish,” Boss said. Widdup haD no issues with the ride.

TOUGH WATCH

There was high drama in the first at Randwick, much to the delight of the bookies, when $2.50 and $2.70 chances Athiri and Harto weren’t given a chance to win. Harto’s race was over when blowing the start by six lengths with Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle. “She was standing a bit cranky and leaning back,” McEvoy told stewards. “To stop her raring I had to squeeze an ear, which was very light. “She’s just a bit anxious in there. She just might need a bit more barrier practice as home.” Punters on Athiri would’ve felt sick watching her and James McDonald get stuck behind horses. “I just couldn’t get a run,” McDonald said. “That was obvious,” chief steward Marc Van Gestel said. “I thought Brock Ryan (Look Only) might have dropped off and I could come out but he never did,” McDonald said. Nash Rawiller, in the same race, thought the fact Musical Genius (third) would’ve won if she wasn’t made to wait so long in the barriers.

What a way to start at @royalrandwick! Jay Jay D'ar and @TommyBerry21 goes bang for @cwallerracing! pic.twitter.com/KBzsi1G4cY

KING RIDING HIGH

This column anointed James McDonald as the country’s best jockey a few weeks ago and while that hasn’t changed, we have to say Rachel King is upstaging many of her male peers of late. She is so calm in the saddle which is why her horses generally don’t run into trouble in their races. She’s one of the best hoops in the Sydney jockey’s room, male or female.

BELOW PAR

The Hawkesbury track raced terribly on Saturday when horses had to race to the outside fence in the straight due to inferior ground on the rail. The track was watered during the week despite rain forecast for Friday. “Disappointing for our owners today at Hawkesbury who thought they had drawn well and were going to race on a good track,” tweeted John O’Shea Racing. It was officially rated a Soft 5 all day despite jockeys saying it was well into the heavy range.

POOR ODDS

There’s been a theme this spring that punters wouldn’t like. Every time a promising horse wins a lowly-rated race it’s all off a sudden inserted as a $15 hope in that better race. Punters get less and less chances to find one at odds these days.

HUGH’S HOPE

Hugh Bowman thinks he knows who he’ll be on for The Everest. “I’d say Bivouac is my short-priced favourite ride in The Everest,” Bowman said. He can’t make the weight to ride Farnan at 53kg so the decision has been made a little easier.

Hugh Bowman hopes to ride Bivouac in The Everest, if the sprinter gains a slot. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

NO ROSE FOR BAZOOKA

David Payne says Bazooka, who ran second to Holyfield in the Group 3 Ming Dynasty, won’t head to the Group 1 Golden Rose this spring. “He’ll go for the Dulcify,” Payne said. “I’ve changed plans. I’m not going for the Golden Rose at this stage. I’ll give him one more run than tip him out. “The fact he’s not a colt makes that decision a lot easier. He’s got a nice future and we need to look after him.”

HORSES TO FOLLOW: Hungry Heart (Flight Stakes), Avilius (barrier beat him) Harto (massive under circumstances)

ONES TO SACK: Thermosphere (entitled to do better), Stellar Pauline (didn’t fire)

RIDE OF THE DAY: Nash Rawiller on Mister Sea Wolf (nice and aggressive)

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You weren’t riding to try and advantage that horse?” said chief steward Marc Van Gestel to Jason Collett after he let Pancho’s stablemate Kinane into a good spot.

TAB BETTING REVIEW

ROYAL RANDWICK

RACE ONE

Favourite backers were sent packing in Schweppes Handicap (1100 metres) with the heavily tried favourites nowhere to be seen. Harto was $4.60 on Wednesday when markets first opened and was favourite for most of the day before going $2.60-$2.70 to start second pick. The big money was with Athiri ($2.70-$2.50 fav) which displaced Harto for favouritism and held more than double that particular runner. It was left up to Chris Waller to upset the apple cart with the stablemate to Harto – Jay Jay D’ar ($23-$17-$21) to burst through a gap midway down the straight to finish and best and score with Tommy Berry on board. Night Flyer ($18) and Musical Genius ($10) added plenty of spice to the exotics. Athiri held just over half the total investment on the race.

BETS: Athiri $6,000 @ $2.50

RACE TWO

Absolute Trust went around as the most popular runner in terms of money held for the TAB Highway Class 3 Handicap (1200 metres). Going around as a $5.50 equal favourite with Feel The Knight, which held nearly as much as the winner, Absolute Trust landed some nice bets under Josh Parr. Clearly Regal ($8.50) and Tower Road ($41) filled the minors with the leader Pace Stick ($5-$7) winding up fourth. Of the others, Temoin Chaud ($14-$7.50) pretty much halved its quote on the day and was a very notable mover.

RACE THREE

It was an upset in the Quincy Seltzer Handicap (1300 metres) with the roughie of the field getting the money. All Time Legend ($18-$23) held the least amount of money in the race but after getting a good run thanks to Kerrin McEvoy, hit the front early in the straight and held off the fast-finishing Air To Air to get the money for trainer Les Bridge. Air To Air ($11-$7.50) was the subject of solid eachway support throughout the week and again today and was a justified market mover. Archanna ($4-$4.40) was the favourite and opened $8 on Wednesday. It was twice as popular as the other significant mover in the race in Raison D’etre ($11-$5) which opened double figures.

BETS: Archanna $2,000 @ $4.60, $1,400 @ $4.60, $1,000 @ $4.60, $1,500 e/w @ $4.40/$1.70, Raison D’etre $1,500 e/w @ $5/$1.85, Air To Air $2,500 x $1,000 e/w @ $11/$2.90, $1,480 @ $8

RACE FOUR

Gytrash caused a minor upset in the TAB Concorde Stakes (1000 metres). Despite being a drifter from $3.20-$4.80, Gytrash finished all over the top of hot favourite Nature Strip ($1.45). The fav held 65 percent of the total investment and was nearly four times as popular as the winner.

BETS: Nature Strip $20,000 @ $1.50, $10,692 @ $1.40, $2,000 @ $1.45 MULTIPLE TIMES, $1,000 @ $1.45 MULTIPLE TIMES, $4,000 @ $1.40, $2,000 @ $1.40, $20,000 @ $1.12 PLACE, Gytrash $1,000 @ $4.80, $1,000 x $2,000 e/w @ $4.80/$1.70, Dirty Work $5,000 @ $10

RACE FIVE

Kinane was a costly proposition in the ATC Farewells Subzero Handicap (1500 metres). The Chris Waller runner went around with approximately 45 percent of the money and was a dominant $4.20 favourite after opening at $8 earlier in the week. It was left to Just Thinkin ($6) to overpower the leader Fun Fact ($23) right on the line after the pair raced on the speed throughout. Think It Over ($6.50-$7) was a late closing third. Just Thinkin had plenty of admirers at the price with only Kinane and Think It Over holding more.

BETS: Kinane $1,000 @ $4.20 MULTIPLE TIMES, $1,000 @ $4, Matowi $1,000 @ $13, Think It Over $1,000 @ $7 TWICE, McCormack $1,000 @ $10

RACE SIX

Dame Giselle had to do it tough in order to get the job done in the Darley Furious Stakes (1200 metres). She was the first horse backed when markets were released earlier in the week. At that point, $6 was on the table but that price didn’t last long at all. Continued support today saw her go from $4.20-$3.80 and despite a wide trip, Tommy Berry got the best out of her with the pair holding off the easing Hungry Heart ($2.90-$4.40) which lost favouritism to the winner. Of the others, Chianti ($11-$5.50) tumbled in the market off the back of continued support throughout the day.

BETS: Dame Giselle $5,000 @ $4.20, $2,400 @ $4.20, $2,000 @ $3.90, $2,000 @ $3.80, Stellar Pauline $1,000 @ $8.50, $2,000 @ $7.50, Hungry Heart $5,500 @ $4.20

RACE SEVEN

Savvy TAB customers were able to secure as much as $8 about Mister Sea Wolf earlier in the week for the running of the Heineken Chelmsford Stakes (1600 metres). The subject of consistent support, Mister Sea Wolf wended up going around a $5.50 chance which put him on the equal second line of betting along with Avilius and only behind Angel Of Truth $4.80-$4.20-$5). Given a great run by Nash Rawiller just off the leader and stablemate Wu Gok, the pair hit the front early in the straight but then had to hold off stablemate Yulong Prince $23-$34-$21) which has been specked at odds. Another Waller runner in Finche ($17-$9) was a notable firmer and ran right up to that support to wind up third in front of Avilius. Angel Of Truth held the most money in front of Avilius with Mister Sea Wolf and Finche next best in that regard.

BETS: Mister Sea Wolf $1,000 @ $6.50, $4,000 x $1,000 e/w @ $5.50/$2.10, $1,000 @ $5.50, Angel Of Truth $2,000 @ $5, $1,000 @ $4 MULTIPLE TIMES, Shared Ambition $4,000 @ $7, $3,500 x $5,500 e/w @ $6.50/$2.30, Avilius $4,000 @ $5.50, $1,000 @ $5.50 MULTIPLE TIMES

RACE EIGHT

The best push all afternoon in the Drinkwise Tramway Stakes (1400 metres) was for Dreamforce. A decent firm from $4.20-$3.30 on the day, Dreamforce held the most money, but only just, in front of Reloaded ($6-$5.50) which opened at $11 earlier in the week. Colette ($12) attracted strong eachway money as did Kolding ($12-$9) and Dragon Leap ($13-$23-$19) while Rock had admirers at the price with Vanna Girl.

BETS: Dreamforce $2,000 @ $4, $2,000 @ $3.60, $1,000 @ $3.60, $8,500 @ $3.30, $6,000 @ $3.30, $2,500 @ $3.10, Dragon Leap $4,000 x $2,000 e/w @ $21/$5, Looks Like Elvis $1,000 @ $15, Reloaded $1,300 e/w @ $6/$2.10, $3,000 e/w @ $5.50/$2.10, $1,000 @ $5.50, $1,400 @ $5.50, Vanna Girl $1,000 e/w @ $11/$3.20, Kolding $3,000 @ $9, $2,500 x $7,500 e/w @ $9/$2.80, Rock $3,000 @ $10

RACE NINE

The very late money for Cristal Breeze was on the mark in the Bisley Workwear Handicap (1200 metres). In the final 10 minutes of betting, the Kris Lees-trained galloper went from $4.60-$3.80 and attracted a number of big bets. James McDonald had to throw everything at him to overhaul Zakat ($7) which had gone past him in the home straight. The pair went toe-to-toe for the majority of the run in. Icebath ($2.70-$3.20) drifted late thanks to the support for Cristal Breeze but was still the most popular runner in terms of money held.

BETS: Cristal Breeze $4,000 @ $4.40, $1,952 @ $4.40, $1,000 @ $4.40, $2,000 @ $4.20, $1,100 @ $, $1,000 @ $4 MULTIPLE TIMES, Icebath $2,601 @ $3, $2,000 @ $3 MULTIPLE TIMES, $1,000 @ $3 MULTIPLE TIMES, $8,000 @ $2.80, $2,000 @ $2.80, $1,370 @ $2.80

Originally published as‘Sad day’: Waller’s emotional salute to master horseman

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