Chris Waller with formidable presence in The Gong

The Chris Waller team is gearing up for a formidable presence in The Gong, drawing on past success in the inaugural running of the event when Mister Sea Wolf claimed victory in 2019. Waller aims to bolster his arsenal for this year’s edition, with particular optimism surrounding Osipenko. Despite encountering challenges en route to the Kembla Grange feature, including notable runs in the Winx Stakes, Memsie, Maybe Diva, and Turnbull, Osipenko remains a strong contender.

Apart from a perceived setback in the Turnbull in the most recent outing, the son of Pierro demonstrated competitive form in the three preceding races leading up to the 2000m effort. Charlie Duckworth, a representative of the stable, expresses hope that the four-year-old Osipenko will secure victory this campaign. Duckworth notes, “Osipenko is probably going to be a leading hope, he’s a genuine Group 1 performer.”

Reflecting on Osipenko’s recent performance, Duckworth adds, “We ran him over 2000m (in the Turnbull), we don’t think he really stayed. We came back in distance, and then he was obviously scratched out of the Golden Eagle.” The decision to stay in New South Wales was made, ruling out a Perth venture due to concerns over a setback.

Another contender for Waller in The Gong is the European import Age Of Kings. Duckworth acknowledges that much remains unknown about the Kingman entire’s capabilities, stating, “Obviously Age Of Kings was caught in the middle of that scrimmage when they straightened up (in the Golden Eagle), so we didn’t learn a massive amount.” Duckworth anticipates improvement from Age Of Kings in his second Australian start, emphasising the horse’s class as a Royal Ascot winner.

Waller’s ambitious approach may extend beyond Osipenko and Age Of Kings, with Duckworth hinting at the possibility of additional contenders, including Waterford, Wicklow, Skyman, and New Mandate. The racing spectacle at Kembla Grange will feature a standalone ten-race card, with The Warra offering a $300,000 complement to The Gong.

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