If and when the incomparable Winx wins her 17th straight victory in today's A$4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Sydney the large crowd will go berserk.

On the first level of the plush Randwick grandstand Chris Waller will feel just one emotion.

Beneath that singular feeling there might be similar delight, but the overriding emotion will be relief.

Yes, training champion racehorses these days brings fame, riches and glory, but with it comes pressure.


Massive pressure.

If the seemingly impossible happens and Winx is beaten today it will be to Waller they will turn with barely veiled questions. How? Why?

The inquest will not be pretty.

Champions become public property.

Waller does not, and does not need to, see Winx as a cash cow.

Yes, the trainer's percentage this afternoon will top A$220,000, but long behind Waller is the memory of he and Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie abandoning their broken down A$500 Valiant on Parramatta road as the mates did their recon to look at breaking into the impossibly brutal Sydney racing scene.

It is impossible to overstate what Waller has achieved.

Sydney racing gives new meaning to the line - you are only as good as your last winner.

Gai Waterhouse had the Sydney scene virtually to herself before Waller set up. She is so famous in worldwide horse circles she is universally known simply as Gai, just as her legendary father, the late Tommy Smith, went by TJ.

By her own glittering standards Gai has had at best an average summer on the turf, to the point it was suggested last week in the ever circling press she could be looking at retirement.

She scoffed. "TJ died with his boots on and so will I."

If Winx is beaten Waller will look first to himself. No one you can think of is more self analytical - though he may not admit it, a large element of his success. Was what he set the champion mare a bridge too far? It wouldn't be the first time that thought crossed his mind.

"I got a nervous twitch halfway through the Doncaster last year," he said yesterday. "She got into trouble mid-race and I thought that coupled with a heavy track was going to bring her undone. I felt terrible."


"But to her great credit she showed champion qualities by putting that behind her in the second half of the race and won stylishly. She's a real machine." It was then, Waller says, he knew he had a champion.

Others had thought it well before that. The first of Winx's current winning sequence came in the Sunshine Coast Guineas at Caloundra in mid-May 2015. The performance was staggering. She was clear last in an 18-horse field into the home straight and the sprint she turned on will stay forever in the memory of those who saw it.

As Waller came down from the grandstand that day his first thought was he just might be able to achieve his goal of winning a group one with Winx. It did no harm when Larry Cassidy jumped off and said: "This could be the best horse I've ridden."

It wasn't lost on Waller that Cassidy had ridden Sunline, but let's not into ridiculous comparisons.

Just as the Melbourne Cup is the world's most famous handicap, the Cox Plate is this part of the world's weight-for-age icon. After Winx won the Theo Marks and Epsom Handicap in the spring of her 4-year-old season, Waller knew the mare deserved her place in the 2015 Cox Plate.

"I wasn't that confident and there were those who said later she received a saloon passage, but she did break the track record."

Waller was then totally convinced of the absolute champion qualities he had on his hands and when Winx repeated the Cox Plate effort last October he also knew the public had caught up with his belief.

"I couldn't believe the crowd's reaction to that win," he said. No real surprise. At the 450m James McDonald had Hartnell travelling so well in front he felt he was on the winner. Suddenly Winx and Hugh Bowman swept past as though Hartnell had his feet glued to the turf. She won by from here to the Post Shop.

"You're ... kidding," McDonald yelled to his mate Bowman.

Waller knows that, almost impossibly, Winx has gone to an even slightly higher level since then.

Sunline, the best of her time, won nearly $13 million, a figure Winx will leapfrog if she wins late today. Trevor McKee said the greatest pressure in training Sunline was having to have her ready to win at group one level every time to the races.

Chris Waller says ditto to that.


Fortunately, Shaune Ritchie, a multiple group one-winning trainer these days in Cambridge, will be in the grandstand alongside his mate this afternoon, having taken 3-year-old filly Devise to Sydney for the A$1m Australian Oaks, run 40 minutes before Winx walks into the barriers.

The A$500 Valiant will make for a nice champagne celebratory anecdote if both horses win.