Chris Waller's Specific Choice ripped thousands of dollars out of bookmakers' bags and stewards grilled two of his other riders in the race as Sydney's premier trainer underlined his winter dominance at Randwick on Saturday.
The previously frustrating Specific Choice, heavily backed from $6.50 into $4.60, had a trouble-free run to whip around the field. He relished the step up from 1400 to 2000 metres, beating stablemates Saigon Tea, the favourite, and Done Nothin' Wrong.
But it was the stipes' exhausting examination of Waller and his jockeys on the placegetters which created a stir.
"I'm certainly not here clearing my name," Waller told stewards.
Saigon Tea was backed into $2.60 favouritism late after touching $3.20. Her jockey, Jason Collett, was given the third degree over several runs he pursued.
pprentice Done Nothin' Wrong rider, Yusuke Ichikawa, a three kilogram-claiming apprentice, also earned the ire of the stewards.
He was rubbed out for five meetings and sent back to the riding skills panel for hampering Collett on Saigon Tea in the straight.
Waller's fourth runner in the eight-horse field, Reigning, finished seventh.
The trainer said he was not in the stewards' room to defend the stable's riding tactics, but was critical of Ichikawa's steering while defending Collett.
Ichikawa was issued with clear instructions to lead, but handed up to Sam Clipperton on Jarilee in the early stages after bouncing well from the stalls.
"The instructions were clear and we expected 'Ichi' to lead," Waller said. "I believe Yusuke has made a mistake. If I was to be a little bit more supportive of the ride ... he did look like he was going too quick [early].
"You can see he's down in the saddle and dictated to rather than dictating himself."
Asked specificially if he was happy with the ride, Waller said: "No, I wasn't, but you also understand he's a three-kilo claiming apprentice and they do make mistakes. It's a little bit hard on a windy day to judge the pace after he's made an error in judgment."
Randwick chairman of stewards Marc Van Gestel claimed Ichikawa's ride "wasn't up to metropolitan standard" and rubbed him out for shifting in on Saigon Tea in the straight as it improved for an inside run.
Collett's ride was also examined. Waller had declared to stewards before the race the stable intended to ride the favourite further forward. Saigon Tea began only moderately and was shuffled back to last in a slowly run affair.
The stewards then chastised Collett for not following the eventual winner, Specific Choice, outside of Planetarium at the 600m mark. They also criticsed him for not taking a narrow run between Done Nothin' Wrong and a weakening Jarilee in the straight after being blocked for a passage.
Collett escaped with a reprimand.
"We have no criticism of your ride in that case," Van Gestel told Collett of his early decision. "It's our view when you come to the outside of Done Nothin' Wrong ... it's a run we see you take day in day out and your vision and circumstances lack direction.
"It was the right option to take and you didn't take it. As a rider of your calibre we expect more than what we saw on this occasion."
Waller claimed he "was happy with the ride" and backed his decision to ease off heels when Saigon Tea finally saw daylight late.
"I would have been very frustrated if I was Jason," Waller said. "He made the right decision and elected to stick to the fence rather than going six or seven wide."
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees represented Ichikawa in the hearing and asked stewards to cut the young rider some slack.
"I know 'Ichi's' probably not getting a great deal of opportunity an he's trying very hard," Lees said. "If you can afford him some lengths that would be good."
I'm grateful he's given me the opportunity.
That was spread out. I struck up a comibnation with a few of his horses and the last two seasons he's kept me on them. The season before he was so close to Douglas and whatever happened he went with him if Douglas wanted to ride it.
Chris So. He was a new trainier this season and Caspar's old foreman and he sort of asked me if I could help place horses in certain races.
I'm going to keep going.
The instructions were to clear and ecpected to Ichi to lead. I'm certainly not here clearing my name. I believe Yusuke has made a mistake. If I was to be a little bit moe supportive of the ride he did look like he was going too quick. He made an error in judgement in my opinion.
You cans ee he's down in the saddle. He should dictate rather than being dictated to.
No i wasn't, but I also he understand he's a three-kilo claiming apprentice and they do make mistakes. It's a little bit hard on a windy day to judge the pace and and he's made an error in judgment in my opinion.
I'm happy with the ride. I would have been very frustrated if I was Jason. He made the right decision in electing to stick to the fence rather than going six or seven wide.
Eigelstein: He was there to win, but he can't let down on a firm track.
I'm Imposing: I think he races very well fresh. We picked this race out after his last start.
Specific Choice: We've been struggling to get the horse to settle. He switched of too much last start. I had to run hi over 1400-metres because there was no mile race. It was a race that was prtety slowly run.
Backmarkers: You can be a back marker and have a good strong turn of foot and use it in a slowly-run race. If they run along they can get tired chasing. We've got a lot of backmarkers that are better off a medium pace or even a slow pace.
Angland: Good riders get the best out of tricky horses.
My words for his ride last start might have been a bit different. To be fair to him he gave him a bit more room today.
It's been a good day. These are the horses we look after when they are young and they repay us when they get to a mature age. That's just as important as winning two-year-olds.
He was a polished jockey ... a jockey that not only rides well, but with confidence in himself and delivers a bit of confidence when he speaks. They would be the three main things: riding, delivering his presentation after the race and confidence within himself.
For jockeys it's all about confidence and he'll carry it through to the spring.
The story Chris Waller watches Specific Choice win at Randwick -and stewards grill his other riders first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.