Chris Waller Zaaki Hollindale Issues

The champion coach is expected to have a five-man squad in the $500,000 contest against superstar Zaaki at the Gold Coast

Head coach Chris Waller is renowned for his gangs attacking big runs, but even he admits his five-man squad might not be enough to beat Zaaki in Saturday’s Group 2 Hollindale Stakes on the Gold Coast.

Waller expects to have Kolding, Polly Grey, Hungry Heart, Great House and last-start winner Kukeracha in the $500,000 contest against star horses Zaaki and Ayrton.

“It’s a strong team but probably not strong enough,” he smiles, pointing to Zaaki’s recent record.

The champion coach was in Brisbane over the weekend and said he was in the process of putting together his winter carnival team, but mostly wanted to check out the controversial Eagle Farm track.

The surface was criticized 12 months ago for being too firm, but there is optimism in this time after Brisbane Racing Club took over maintenance and opted to turn it into a Kikuyu turf track.

Waller has launched numerous careers from Queensland and said he expects 2022 to be no different.

“I came to see how things are going here and take a look at the track, the track is talked about a lot so seeing it first hand is the best thing,” he said.

“Bringing some of these exciting young horses to a better surface is what we are looking forward to.

“He (Eagle Farm) is doing a good process… They’ve walked me through the process and looking forward, I think there’s something to look forward to.

“We have to support Jim Roberts, he is a very talented curator who is doing a terrific job at Doomben, he knows the conditions and what we are dealing with.

“I think it’s better than my last visit here, which was in the winter, so I think the horses will be more comfortable, but when you have dry spells that’s key because it’s was too firm (previously).

“We all know this has been going on for too long, but there is definitely progress.”

Although he has never won a Stradbroke Handicap, Waller has often used Queensland as a launching pad for many of his horses and although he has yet to put the finishing touches on his team heading north, he said history told him a good horse would come out of the pack.

“I have a lot (of potential Stradbroke horses), I don’t know if they can win the race,” he said. “The beauty of Queensland Carnival is that it digs up a lot of stars.

“Who would have thought that some of the stars I had, some of the best colts in Australia, started their careers here or got their confidence here.

“Hopefully there will be one or two this year.”

Originally published as Chris Waller’s five attempts to defeat Zaaki, Ayrton in Hollindale Stakes