Champion trainer Chris Waller gold plated an already extraordinary season by breaking the record for the number of Australian Group 1 wins in a single campaign yesterday as Invincibella plundered a much vaunted top tier success in the $A500,000 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm.
Waller, who earlier in the year became the first trainer to break through the $40 million prize-money barrier – exploits fuelled largely by the all-conquering campaigns of Winx and The Autumn Sun, notched his 18th Group 1 win in the final elite level race of the season to surpass the figure achieved by the legendary Tommy Smith in 1979/80.
Despite consternation in some quarters that the record remains the preserve of Bart Cummings, who achieved 20 victories in races now attributed with Group 1 status in 1974/75, Waller is undoubtedly top of the tree given the pattern was only introduced in 1979.
One of four runners for Waller in the feature, Invincibella was a fitting representative with which to achieve the landmark being a daughter of Yarraman Park’s burgeoning flag bearer I Am Invincible, who this season became a record breaker in his own right as the sire of 27 individual stakes winners, surpassing the milestone set firstly by Danehill and twice equalled by his grandson Snitzel. That figure now stands at 28 with five weeks of the current season remaining.
In addition, the nose success of $10 chance Invincibella broke the Group 1 hoodoo for New Zealand-born jockey Jason Collett, who had previously finished runner-up 12 times at the highest level. He galvanised his mount to lead inside the final 100 metres and she showed tenacity and courage in spades to fend off a brace of James Cummings-trained representatives, with the well supported Pohutukawa running second and race favourite Savatiano finishing a further long neck adrift in third.
Celebrating his first Group 1 success resulted in a careless riding suspension for Collett.
As he crossed the line first aboard Invincibella Collett raised his right arm in triumph but as a result stewards found he allowed the mare to shift in, causing interference to Winter Bride approximately 50 metres past the winning post.
“When you celebrate, Savatiano, who was on your inside, does have to go on with you for a number of strides and we think you put her on this course,” acting chief steward Daniel Aurisch said.
“In our view it has compromised the safety of Ryan Maloney who rode Winter Bride.”
Collett was suspended for nine days, which begins after he rides in Sydney next Saturday. He can resume riding on July 9.