There’s no one person with a greater influence on a horse’s career than the trainer.
Last week we took a look through our pro punters’ favourite jockeys in Melbourne and Sydney. This week, let’s switch that same focus to the trainers…
Trevor Lawson (Victoria)
5: Chris Waller
Waller is always a force during the spring by weight of numbers. Maintains a constant healthy strike rate all year long.
4: James Cummings
Has been fairly quiet in the early part of season in Melbourne, but always has a nice crop of horses for the Spring Carnival.
3: Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young
Enjoying a banner season. Look to have a really nice crop of young horses who should be competitive during the Spring Carnival.
2: Danny O’Brien
O’Brien has had a very good start to the season with some nice progressive horses in his stable. He’s able to combine beach work and trackwork with two bases. O’Brien has always maintained a good strike rate, and he tends to only run horses in races where they will be competitive.
1: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace
They have become the new Darren Weir Racing in terms of size, using his old stables at Ballarat. Started slowly but have gained momentum by having good staff and structures in place. Have a nice group of horses.
Mark Rhoden (New South Wales)
A lot of it is about weight of numbers in Sydney – there’s obviously a bunch of big stables that dominate.
5: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott
Gai absolutely dominated in her prime, but their number of starters has clearly dropped right off. So they’re a smaller operation, but are still getting constant winners.
They still stick to Gai’s proven methods: their horses are very fit and are generally up on the pace. For punters, that’s great – you know they’ll be forward enough and a good chance to win. So while the stable isn’t the size it was, they’ve stuck to the methods that work.
4: Peter & Paul Snowden
If I like one of their horses, then the Snowdens are my favourite stable to back. They have a real ability to produce horses that can win at any stage of their preparation. They have less runners than the huge stables, but are the ones that get closest to the big boys.
3: Kris Lees
For a Newcastle-based trainer to be fifth in the Sydney premiership is incredible. The stable have always been good trainers and have had a big reputation going back to Kris’ father.
Due to the location they have a lot more in provincial and country racing than others here, and to have an operation like that and also turn it into one of the biggest competitors in Sydney racing is amazing. They have plenty of really high quality horses in Group racing too.
2. James Cummings
Across a longer period, Godolphin just always turn out winners. While they can have a good or bad run at times, the wheel always turns – they’re just highly professional and will always have winners not far away.
1: Chris Waller
It must be the most impressive training operation ever seen in the country for its sheer scope. Particularly with the multiple locations they have now, Waller is clearly happy to delegate to trusted lieutenants. People can rightly say it’s all down to weight of numbers, but the horses are placed very well and give you a great degree of confidence as punter.
Group 1 racing is interesting – it’s much more down to individual horse quality and ability than the trainer. For example, at a regular meeting you can be nervous about taking on a Waller… but you’re much more inclined to take him on in Group 1 races, as no matter what the stable you know the horse in there on merit.
Of the other Sydney trainers, Gerald Ryan has fewer starters but has a lot of really good fillies and mares. Trainers like Mark Newnham and Brad Widdup also have less starters at the moment but are on the way up. It’ll be interesting to see if they can parlay good starts to their careers to competing with better runners and jumping into the top division. They have some big syndicates behind them so are getting plenty of runners.