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Waller takes the safety-first course with smart baby Champagne Cath

CHRIS WALLER is not taking any risks with impressive two-year-old Champagne Cath on the way to next month's $2 million Magic Millions Classic, but admits he is ready to end the preparation if she is not up to it.

Champagne Cath won by 3¼ lengths on debut at Rosehill on December 8 and was only a tick outside a class record set by Thorn Park as a late two-year-old.

Waller took the Street Sense filly for a gallop on Friday night at Canterbury, where she is likely to have her next start on Saturday.

''I just wanted to tick all the boxes with her and she didn't do that much,'' he said. ''It was just about having a trip away from the stables and a look at Canterbury. She will be nominated for Canterbury but if she doesn't draw a barrier, I would be happy to go to the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions without another run.''

The Waller stable continues to be a dominant force in Sydney and he is well on of schedule to break Tommy Smith's record for winners in a single season. He is almost halfway to the 156 mark set by Smith in 1975-76 with 74½ wins before Christmas after another double on Saturday.

However, he will be cautious with Champagne Cath.


''She is a natural but I have found in the past if you push to make races it just doesn't work,'' Waller said. ''I want to give her every chance and I would love to win a Magic Millions, but putting too much pressure on horses is not the way to go.

''It takes a long time to establish yourself in Sydney and you are always learning. I used to think I was a bit soft on my horses but I was pushing too hard, in some instances, to certain races. She will go to the Gold Coast but only if she keeps doing everything right.''

Corey Brown is booked to ride Champagne Cath at Canterbury and in the Magic Millions on January 12. ''Running at Canterbury works well because it gives her two weeks until the Magic Millions,'' Waller said.

Champagne Cath is likely to meet several Magic Millions hopefuls trying to make the field, including David Hayes's filly Fine Diamond, which was hampered by a riderless horse when fourth to Regimental Pride at Rosehill on December 15.

While Waller wins his share of feature races, his ability to have winners week in, week out has built his stable to be the best in Sydney. ''It is about getting returns to owners and you do that by winning races in the city,'' he said. ''That is the focus, the better horses will come but getting winners every Saturday is very important.''

■ Several jockeys have volunteered to ride Magic Millions hotpot Assail after Peter Robl was suspended on Saturday. Trainer Clarry Conners will make a decision this week.