The NZTR Award for Outstanding Global Achievement was founded last year to honour the exceptional deeds of New Zealanders overseas. Its first winner was the exceptional jockey James McDonald, and tonight’s second winner was the unstoppable Sydney trainer Chris Waller.
Waller, who was at tonight’s ceremony to receive his award, trained 169 winners in Sydney in 2015-16 to break an all-time record for the most winners in a Sydney season. The previous record of 167.5 was also set by Waller in the 2012-13 season.
The Foxton-raised Waller began his Sydney career with very little but has risen to become a powerhouse in Australia’s training ranks. He won a remarkable 15 Group One races in the 2015-16 season, five with the champion mare Winx including the Cox Plate and Doncaster Mile.
Waller’s tally of 15 Group One winners is nine more than his nearest rival Darren Weir. Waller’s runners earned more than A$30 million.
“We have 350 to 400 horses and 100 staff, so it’s a big operation and things like this are all about those staff,” Waller said. “Winning those big races makes all the work worthwhile.
“A lot of times I wonder how I’ve got to this point. I thought I’d be right tonight until here everyone stood up!
“I realise that I’m seen as a flag-bearer for New Zealand, but it doesn’t make me any different to who I was before.
“We’re very proud to see New Zealanders doing so well in Sydney. The Aussies haven’t really got over the fact that we come over and do so well. James McDonald is doing incredibly well and shows that anything can be possible.
“It’s good to see so many high-profile politicians here tonight. They’re the only ones that can save New Zealand racing. You deserve to be racing for $60,000 on Saturdays and $400,000 in Group Ones. Then you can be sure that Australian horses would be coming over to compete.” – theinformant.co.nz