Waller in running for major award

3 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

Raising the bar is something Chris Waller has been doing with regularity over the years and his achievements have now also come to national attention in New Zealand.

The expatriate Kiwi horseman has broken new ground as the first trainer in 55 years to be nominated for the ISPS Handa Halberg Coach of the Year Award.

“It’s another way of getting racing into the mainstream and recognise a Kiwi for what he’s done,” said Bernard Saundry, Chief Executive of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing who put forward Waller’s name.

“Racing is a sport and we wanted Chris to be recognised for his amazing achievements and training a world champion in Winx.” – Bernard Saundry.

“Racing is a sport and we wanted Chris to be recognised for his amazing achievements and training a world champion in Winx.”

Chris Waller (right) with Kerrin McEvoy following The Autumn Sun's win in the G1 Golden Rose

Waller started his career at Foxton, a small coastal town about an hour south of the capital Wellington in the North Island, where he worked for Group 1 winning trainer Paddy Busuttin.

He later took out his own licence and soon after headed to Australia with Party Belle NZ) (Oregon USA}), who won at Warwick Farm and twice at Randwick.

Waller subsequently accepted an offer to take 20 boxes at Rosehill and with the early support of the Ingham family he gained a foothold in Sydney and produced Triple Honour (NZ) (Honours List {IRE}) to win the 2008 Doncaster H., his first Group 1 success.

Watch: Triple Honour win Chris Waller's first G1 in the 2008 Doncaster H.

Major presences

He now has stables in all major racing cities along Australia’s eastern seaboard - Rosehill is headquarters with bases also at Flemington, Warwick Farm and most recently at the Gold Coast.

Waller has won eight Metropolitan Premierships in New South Wales, the 2017-18 title with 189 winners.

His Group 1 tally now stands at 84 and this season he has written international headlines with his champion mare Winx (Street Cry {IRE}), who won an unprecedented fourth G1 Cox Plate.

Chris Waller with wonder mare, Winx

Racing ambassadors

Waller and Winx have become ambassadors for the thoroughbred industry and their heroics undoubtedly a major influence in him being nominated for the Halberg Award.

Held annually since 1963, they are the brainchild of Olympic athletic champion Sir Murray Halberg (ONZ) to honour sporting excellence and as a major fundraiser for the Halberg Foundation - his charity which aims to enhance the lives of physically disabled young New Zealanders by enabling them to participate in sport and recreation.

Waller is one of 14 to be nominated for the Buddle Finlay Coach of the Year with Gordon Walker (canoeing), Allan Bunting (rugby), Clark Laidlaw (rugby union), Dale Stevenson (athletics), Eugene Bareman (mixed martial arts), Jason Pocock (surf life-saving), Jeremy McColl (athletics), Joe Schmidt (rugby union), Kiwi Campbell (waka ama), Leon Birnie (football), Marcelo Lopes (mixed martial arts), Raylene Bates MNZM (para athletics) and Roly Crichton (para swimming) also in the running.

The winner will be announced at a function at the Spark Arena in Auckland on February 21, 2019.