Chris Waller expects Funstar to bounce back in the Theo Marks Stakes

Hall of Fame trainer Chris Waller hasn’t lost any confidence in Funstar on the eve of what could be a make-or-break for her in the Group 2 $200,000 Theo Marks Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Glamour mare Funstar is considered one of Waller’s spring carnival mainstays but a repeat of the mare’s indifferent first-up effort would leave the trainer’s big-race ambitions in some doubt.

Funstar couldn’t really get into the contest when resuming at Randwick last month finishing sixth behind Roheryn in the Show County Quality but her trainer painted an encouraging picture of the mare’s progress going into Saturday’s race.

“We lay our cards on the table and if there is a problem we let you know but Funstar is working very well and has not given me any sign or indication she hasn’t come back,’’ Waller said.

“Her first-up run looked ‘plain’ but I don’t think she is a 1200m horse and giving away a good start to decent sprinters made it hard. I thought through the line she was actually quite good

“I feel she can run very well on Saturday and although it is only another 100m, a top four finish would suggest she is spot on to peak for the Epsom Handicap over the mile.’’

Waller is banking on Funstar bouncing back from her first-up loss as her stablemate Kolding did last week when he was came off a struggling effort in the Winx Stakes when resuming to just miss running down Dreamforce in the Tramway Stakes.

“Like Kolding, her work has been fantastic,’’ Waller said of Funstar.

Sky Racing Update: 9th September 2020

Sky Racing Update: 9th September 2020.

TAB Fixed Odds price assessors are certainly taking no chances with Funstar who has been installed the $3.20 favourite to give Waller a record-equalling fifth Theo Marks Stakes after previous successes with Arcadia Queen (2019), Mackintosh (2016), Winx (2015) and Riva De Lago (2013).

Waller used the Theo Marks Stakes to launch Winx’s successful Epsom Handicap-Cox Plate campaign five years ago and this is a race trail Funstar could follow this spring.

However, Waller conceded he hasn’t determined the four-year-old mare’s preferred race distance although he suspects the mare might be best suited at around 1600m.

“I haven’t yet worked out the right distance for Funstar but I’m thinking a mile,’’ he said. “That’s the reason we’ve targeted the Epsom with her.’’

Waller is also chasing another training record in the Group 2 $200,000 Sheraco Stakes (1200m) if either of his entries, Haut Brion Her, Fiesta or Subpoenaed, can win the feature fillies and mares race.

The champion trainer has already prepared three Sheraco winners with Invincibella (2018) and Catkins (2014-15) and shares the race training record with Gai Waterhouse.

Haut Brion Her is the favoured runner of the Waller trio in early Sheraco betting at $7.50 with Subpoenaed $19 and Fiesta $51. Fasika is the $2.50 favourite.

Jockey James McDonald has been talking up Haut Brion Her this week and the mare does boast an impressive race record of eight starts for five wins and three seconds although she hasn’t appeared on raceday since taking out the Group 2 Blazer Stakes at Flemington 11 months ago.

Chris Waller says Funstar will still be on track for the Epsom with a top-four finish in the Theo Marks Stakes. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“Haut Brion Her’s trials have been good but she hasn’t raced for almost a year which is the only negative,’’ Waller said.

“But she has a bright future.

“Subpoenaed was very much like Funstar first-up, she looked plain but I think her run was pretty good really and she should run well.

“Fiesta has drawn wide and I think we will go back from that barrier, we will ride her conservatively and she will run on well in what looks a very competitive race.’’

The barrier draw wasn’t kind to Waller at Flemington on Saturday either with Kings Will Dream ($9.50) having to start from gate 15 in the Group 1 $750,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).

Boom stayer Russian Camelot is at the top of betting at $3.60.

Kings Will Dream ran a blinder first-up when third to Savatiano in the Group 2 Lawrence Stakes but Waller fears the chestnut could have to endure a tough run from the wide barrier in the Makybe Diva Stakes.

“The draw is a concern but fortunately it is at Flemington,’’ Waller said.

“We just have to hope we get a bit of luck in the run and he finds something to take him into the race because the horse is going very well.’’

Originally published asWaller has faith Funstar will deliver on promise

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