BLOODSTOCK IN THE LAP OF LUXURY
Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival may be some months away and of course the 'race that stops the nation' is the world-acclaimed Melbourne Cup. Being one of the world’s most hard-fought – not to mention richest – horse races, ‘The Cup’ is understandably the pinnacle in any horse trainer’s career.
One trainer making serious headway in his bid for Cup glory is former Kiwi turned Aussie, Chris Waller.
Backing up a stunning third place finish in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, Waller’s eight-year-old gelding, Who Shot Thebarman, enjoyed another solid turn-out last year, coming in fifth following a less than advantageous barrier draw.
Who Shot Thebarman is just one of a stable of horses trained by Chris Waller Racing (CRW) – that have battled it out over the past year in no fewer than 1,500 races – winning both the VRC Derby and the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
More recently, Waller’s five-year-old mare Winx has dominated the 2016-17 season, blitzing the field at the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes in Sydney this month.
When he commenced with four horses at Rosehill, Waller could never have anticipated that this would swell to 120 thoroughbreds, and a Champion Australian Trainer award.
Ever restless, Waller now has his sights set on expansion. “I believe that with our existing form of infrastructure, we can continue to grow and expand into other states,” he said.
Chris Waller believes that in order to produce incredible horses that give him “the edge” his organisation needs highly coordinated teams of trainers, supported by A-1 equipment. And he demands that all his horses are exceptionally well cared for.
With the value of the Waller stable of horses also climbing steadily, it’s been important for technical officer, Anthony Briffa, or ‘Bruno’, as he is known, to secure a truck capable of ferrying his horses efficiently about from their home base in Berry on the New South Wales south coast, to race meets around the country.
Bruno said he simply relied on the quality Isuzu brand to provide him with a truck that “ticked all the boxes” for on-road safety features and compliance.
With the help of Matt McKenna and the staff at Suttons Isuzu Arncliffe, he settled on the Isuzu FSD 850 S Long Premium.
Aside from serving as a neat solution to their unique freight application, the FSD ticks all the safety boxes too with driver and passenger airbag with seatbelt pre-tensioner, ECE-R93 compliant front underrun protection device, anti-lock braking system, front stabiliser bar and reversing camera.
But Bruno wasn’t satisfied with just one camera, and for good reason, as he explained. “My personal concern was more about ensuring that the truck had cameras mounted correctly inside the truck to monitor our horses – at all times,” he said. “It’s no exaggeration that at one point I was carrying horses worth approximately $18 million during a single trip.”
“After purchasing the FSD, I had to arrange to have it modified at the back, enabling us to carry nine horses comfortably.
“I had the back extended, so the vehicle length is about fifteen metres, and a lazy axle added.
“The people at Rivenlee Floats took care of this,” Bruno said. “While it was a bit of a learning curve for me, the work by Rivenlee Floats was top notch.
“It’s really critical that these horses don’t experience any jarring, at all. They require optimal physical and emotional rest periods.”
Bruno said the trip to Berry takes approximately two and a half hours each way from Sydney.
“This involves driving on everything from freeways to back roads.
“Once I cut through the forest at Kangaroo Valley, on sealed roads with a very steep incline, as well as very windy and narrow,” he said.
The FSD 850 has adequate power for these treks, with a SiTEC Series III 255 engine that produces 191 kW power at 2,400 rpm and 761 Nm torque at 1,450 to 2,400 rpm.
“From my point of view, it’s the power, smooth ride, and definitely the cabin comforts that make up the complete package,” Bruno said.
The FSD 850 has the premium driver’s seat being the ISRI 6860 with pneumatic lumbar support, height, rake and automatic weight adjustment.
The cabin is also ECE-R29 compliant and has an ADR42 compliant sleeper – making it perfect for long days at race meets.
With quality infrastructure, and experienced teams of trainers in place, the future looks bright for CWR. The team has a number of irons in the fire and a hectic domestic schedule leading into Spring.
Racing Manager Liam Prior said, “Logistics are a major factor in a racing stable.
“It’s therefore pretty exciting that we have this custom-designed vehicle to transport our bloodstock in comfort and safety, considering certain loads have millions of dollars’ worth of stock on board,” he said.
“This vehicle definitely gives us all peace of mind.”