It is not often trainers’ thoughts are elsewhere after winning group 2 races but for Chris Waller and John Thompson the joy of Mister Sea Wolf and Dreamforce’s victories was lost amongst the grief of losing of a friend in Rick Worthington.
The news of Worthington’s death at 60 after a battle with cancer came through before the Chelmsford Stakes and jockeys wore black armbands for the Randwick weight-for-age feature.
Nash Rawiller produced a brilliantly judged ride on Mister Sea Wolf to take the Chelmsford, which was a good tribute for the classy horseman Worthington, who trained a small select team at Warwick Farm right to the end.
“He was a tough man. That is how he will be remembered by all of us and so many others outside of racing that he will have touched throughout his life,” Waller said. “He was the first person to help if someone was doing it tough.
“He has done it tougher than anybody in the last few years. He’d be the last one to show it. It is a sad day.
“A fantastic horseman, a dedicated man to horses throughout his life.
“At least we’ve won a race for him.”
Rawiller added: “We’ve all known he has had a tough battle the last few years but he is a fella that always had a smile on his face and something good to say.”
Thompson told jockey Rawiller to keep the black armband on for Tramway Stakes and the leading jockey completed a group 2 double.
“He was a mate and broke in a lot of horses for me. I can’t say too much because I’ll just get upset,” Thompson said. “It means a lot for Nash to win that race with the black armband because that was for Rick.
“A lot of people wouldn’t know what a good bloke Rick was.”
Dreamforce dropped out after setting a hot speed in the Winx Stakes, and will now be given his chance for another group 1 in the George Main Stakes in a fortnight time.
The eight-year-old was back to his best, out in front and holding off a raft of Epsom hopefuls to score. Kolding and Reloaded filled the minors, while Rock made a good return running in fifth.
“You just had to put a line through his first up run. It was just a disaster. He came through the run well,” Thompson said “This race suited a lot better, set weights and penalties, and he mapped better for us too.
“I was a bit worried in the run, especially after him going keen last start. He stripped a lot better horse and on top of the ground helps.
“I think we will have a shot at the mile again with him in George Main because you know what you are going to get, he is just tough and honest.”
Waller delivered the trifecta in the Chelmsford with Mister Sea Wolf holding off Yulong Prince and Finche for another group 2 win.
“He is a hard horse to find a group 1 for now because of his rating. As a young horse he was probably good enough to win a race like the Epsom with the right weight,” Waller said. “He is so high in the rating now, it’s tough but we’ll have a couple of days off now and we might give him his chance in it.
“I thought Finche was very good because of where he is going [The Melbourne Cup]. He might have a month between runs and head to the Turnbull.”
Avilius produced the run of the Chelmsford charging home from near last to finish on the placegetter’s heels in fourth.
“It was a great run. I just had to give away a bit from the barrier and it was a cracking first-up run,” jockey Kerrin McEvoy said.
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Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald