A triumphant return by group one performer Said Com was the icing on the cake for premier trainer Chris Waller at Canterbury as he welcomed four winners at the first Saturday meeting of the new season.
Runner-up to outstanding filly Mosheen in the Randwick Guineas, Epsom Handicap-bound Said Com was sent out the $1.75 favourite in the Benchmark 95 (1250m) and gave his supporters a few anxious moments when he came out at the back of the field.
He was still in front of only one horse rounding the home turn but with Nash Rawiller working hard, Said Com gathered in the field to overtake the leader Welkom Gold and beat him by 1 lengths.
Skytrain ($9.50), topweight with 62kg, was the same margin third.
"This was a tough race for him first-up and I want to make sure we place him properly," Waller said.
"I still think he's a preparation away and will be much stronger in the autumn.
"He's got himself ready today through his own physique and athleticism.
"He's going to the Epsom and we will just take small steps to get there.
"He is a similar horse to Rangirangdoo, who ran second and then came out in the autumn and won the Doncaster.
"We will place him carefully. There is no rush with him to get to his next start."
The first of Waller's winners, Stout Hearted, is another headed to the spring carnival.
The imported stayer will be aimed at the Metropolitan (2400m) on Epsom Day, October 6, after winning over 1900m on Saturday.
Waller compared him favourably with last year's Metropolitan winner The Verminator.
"The Verminator kept winning these races and ended up in the Metropolitan," he said.
Relaxed And Happy represented the stable in the Inglis Bonus and stretched his unbeaten record to three.
He was ineligible for the extra A$100,000 on offer for Inglis Sales graduates but that meant little to Waller.
"This race was here for him and the prizemoney is good," he said.
Sydney's BUSY traffic dashed the hopes of New Zealand apprentice Alysha Collett's chances to ride another winner for Waller when she failed to get to the course in time to partner Madam Nash in the Benchmark 80 (1900m).
Adam Hyeronimus got the call-up and rated the mare to perfection after she went straight to the lead and stretched out in the final stages to beat Hollywell by 3 lengths.
Collett has spent three weeks with Waller who sponsors a New Zealand apprentice each year and has ridden four winners during her stay.
"I did tell her to be wary of Sydney traffic," the trainer said.
"She is a good girl and a good rider and will hopefully be back with us later in the year."
* Blake Shinn and Nathan Berry have escaped with warnings over their behaviour after almost coming to blows in the jockeys' room at Canterbury.
The argument started as the pair went past the post after the Inglis Bonus race for 3-year-olds in which both rode unplaced horses.
"Just after the line I probably said a few things I shouldn't have said," Berry told a stewards' inquiry. Shinn then approached Berry in the jockeys' room.
"I heard Nathan Berry make a few derogatory comments which I didn't appreciate," Shinn said.
"I told him 'if you want to start something, do it to my face, rather than on horseback'."
Berry said he and Shinn had grabbed at each other's shirts but had since shaken hands.
Berry conceded the pair's actions were "a bad look for racing".