Chris Waller has already declared an imposing team for the 2011 Epsom Handicap but that could be made even stronger with the discover of Altius over the last month or so.
Altius has won two in a row since placing on debut for the Waller camp and is showing every sign that he’ll continue to improve over the course of the spring carnival.
While it’s certainly acknowledged that the horse still has a long way to go before making it to Group 1 level, the old saying that ‘all you can do is win’ certainly comes into play.
This weekend it will be a Benchmark 90 at Rosehill Gardens over 1500m against a field boasting black type experience.
A win there and it’s a case of then taking a step up to the next level and seeing just how far he can go.
“Provided he continues to do well we’ll just keep stepping him up through the grades,” Stable Representative Liam Prior said.
The step after this will be the Group 3 Cameron Handicap at Newcastle, that’s where they’d truly see if he could handle an Epsom Handicap.
“If he can win next start a race like the Cameron would be right up his alley,” Prior said.
“He would obviously have to equip himself well in a race like the Cameron,” Prior said.
“At the moment were just stepping him up through the grades and if he can continue to do that we could find himself in a race like the Epsom with a light weight.
“The Randwick mile is a tough mile and he has shown in the past he can get over a bit of ground. If he can perform well again next start up in grade we would be mad not to think it is a race for him.”
The Epsom Handicap provides big stallion proving opportunities to Altius who is already a somewhat desirable stud prospect as he’s the half brother to Elvstroem and Haradasun.
“As a colt he is a true gentleman,” Prior said.
“He has a great temperament and hopefully he can go onto bigger and better things and continue the success for the family.”
“Circles Of Gold [dam], the success she has had on the racetrack is unbelievable. He is obviously very well bred with good relations, if he was to go on and win a race like that [Epsom Handicap] he would make a very successful transition to stud.”
Altius was formerly trained by Tony Vasil with the owners transferring him to Waller hoping that a change of techniques might be what he needed to kick start his career.
“They are really terrific owners, Frank Tagg, Frank Meduri and Gary Moffitt,” Prior said.
“They just leave it to us and it is really good dealing with guys like them that have obviously had such tremendous success on the racetrack.”
Altius would become the fourth horse form the Waller stable to launch an Epsom Handicap charge with Foreteller, Triple Elegance and Red Tracer all set for the Group 1 event.
Forteller is one which has received plenty of attention already.
“He [Foreteller] will probably go to a 1300m race on September 10,” Prior said.
“We will freshen him right up, drop him back in distance and top him off nicely before he probably goes to the Epsom.”
While he is yet another European import for Waller, his style of racing is slightly different to what we’ve seen in the past and more indicative of the new tactics being employed by the stable.
“We’re buying horses the last 12 to 24 months with higher ratings and also stretching our horizons to not just horses coming out of England but also France and Ireland,” Prior said.
“A lot of them when they get here are still pretty one paced but if you can train a bit of speed into them and they respond well they can carry that through to their races as they have a better turn of foot.
“We’ve changed the dimension a bit with what we’re looking for. Instead of buying solely the mile and a quarter to mile and a half horses now we are also looking for the imported horses who can be competitive over the 1600m distance or event shorter and it seems to be working at the moment.”
He’s won three in a row since his arrival in Australia and there’s no reason that can’t continue into his new campaign.
“After a short break he has come back and is in terrific order,” Prior said.
“He is going really well and we are really happy with him.
“He was a horse who had a much higher rating than what we had bought in the past. We are buying horses who have higher ratings.
“His first Australian start was straight into Saturday grade whereas before we had horses who commenced in the midweeks where they could win two or three races before stepping up to Saturday class.
“He came over here with a rating close to 90. With his latest wins his rating is now up to 106/107.”