Group One racing has ended for the Australian season with Miss Cover Girl’s win at Eagle Farm.
The Kelly Schweida-trained mare won the Tattersall’s Tiara in Brisbane on Saturday to add her name to the list of the elite for 2015/16.
Heading that list is Winx, unbeaten in seven starts during her season which yielded six Group One wins.
Those wins included two of Australia’s toughest races, the Cox Plate and the Doncaster Mile.
Her trainer Chris Waller again came out on top with 15 wins at the elite level.
He acknowledges Winx is in a class of her own but aside from her success, he rates the achievements of Preferment as particularly satisfying.
The 2014 Victoria Derby winner came back to win the Turnbull Stakes in the spring and added the Australian Cup on protest and the BMW in the autumn.
“Preferment’s Australian Cup was a planned target and for it to come off was very satisfying and a memorable race,” Waller said.
“And to win the BMW and to get the trifecta in the race was another great moment.
“It was a race we had not won before and one we aspired to win.”
For Waller, Japonisme’s upset win in the Coolmore Stud Stakes also ranks high as his first Group One win for the Ingham family.
“That was special because Mr (Bob) Ingham supported me from the beginning,” he said.
“And I can’t forget Boban who was such a good horse for the stable but unfortunately died in a paddock accident after he was retired.”
Waller also sent out Delectation for a narrow victory in the Darley Classic over Chautauqua who later redeemed himself with Group One wins at home and abroad to be ranked the world’s best sprinter.
At the end of the season, Waller was nine Group One wins ahead of Darren Weir whose biggest win was also the biggest upset with 100-1 chance Prince Of Penzance in the Melbourne Cup for Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to claim Australia’s most famous race.
Weir had run second in the Cup with She’s Archie in 2003 and thought that might be the closest he would get.
Payne was less sceptical and rode the race of her life for an historic win which catapulted her to stardom and gave racing a welcome lift among those not always attuned to the sport.
Among the other many highlights was the return to the Group One honour roll of five-time Melbourne Cup winner Lee Freedman who came out of retirement to join his brother Anthony in a training partnership.
The pair claimed late-season wins with Malaguerra in the BTC Cup and Lord Ivanhowe in the Doomben Cup.