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By Damian Browne | Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Brownie’s Blog is the weekly personal blog of multiple Group 1 winning jockey Damian Browne. This week Brownie talks about a probably unstoppable force and he also comments on the unrelenting cycle that everybody in the racing game is all too familiar with. This is Brownie's Blog … exclusive to HRO

Chris Waller’s Queensland based operation continues to go from strength to strength. That fact will come as no surprise to anyone as you can be sure that progress is following a well laid out path set out in a solid business plan.

The stable’s three winners at Eagle Farm on Saturday underlined the fact that calling Waller’s Gold Coast base a ‘satellite’ stable is, in a way, probably doing it a disservice. It is far more than we generally think of when we talk about a satellite stable. He has almost created the perfect storm with the way he can move horses around.

I mean this is a stable which can win a Brisbane Metropolitan Trainers’ Premiership.

In fact, there is absolutely no reason why he might not end up dominating the Queensland metropolitan playing field sometime in the future … just as he now does in Sydney … especially in the staying races. Most of the time he already has three or four horses in those races up here.

Again all comes down to what makes a good trainer and a lot of times the answer to that is a trainer being able to place your horses in races they can win and Chris Waller is obviously outstanding at that.

It sounds a simple formula … the right horses for the right races … but there is a trick to that and it is a trick which Waller has mastered.

Having said that, credit for the results the stable is getting in Queensland must also go to Paul Shailer, Waller’s Gold Coast stable foreman. He is obviously doing a fantastic job there in his own right.

I actually rode with Paul many years ago in New Zealand. So, he has had a go at the riding and so he knows that side of things and working for and learning from Waller for such a long time means he has picked up a lot of his good habits.

He is obviously a very good horseman and, one day, if he ever decides to go on his own, he would probably end up being a pretty handy trainer too.

I’m not sure of the numbers he has got there at the moment. I sure they probably change week to week with horses coming and going as they do … but the strike-rate speaks for itself as much as anything.

By now, all of the other local trainers will have been on the receiving end of the power of this ‘satellite’ stable.

We all understand that the projection of Waller’s Queensland operation is going to be onwards and upwards and, as transpired in Sydney, you get the feeling there is going to be little anybody can do, in any real competitive sense, to stop it.


You always hear people talk about riding being a confidence game and apprentice Nick Keal is currently a good example of that. The results are coming thick and fast for Nick and his confidence must be soaring.

But it is also a game of cycles.

As a jockey, when things are going well everything just seems to fall into place. You can be three or four back on the fence and gaps will appear for you … but when you are having a bad run it seems it doesn’t matter what you do, you just can’t get a run.

I imagine it is the same with gamblers. When they have a good day punting they have a great day but when they are having a bad trot they could back Winx and it will probably get beaten.

Some jockeys get superstitious about guarding their luck. Some wear the same undies. I don’t know how that helps you win a race but if it helps their mindset somehow I suppose it can count as a positive.

The cycles of good runs and bad runs will always be there though, whatever clothes you wear or whatever side of the lamppost you walk, with the jockey’s confidence barometer going up and down depending on where they are in that cycle.

And the turnaround … either way … can turn on just one thing, one moment or just one race.

In Nick Keal’s case, for example, he has just gone to Glen Courtney, who is probably the leading jockey manager in Queensland, which would certainly be helping Nick as well. It is all about the rides you are getting and obviously Glen is helping him get good rides.

Glen also manages Michael Cahill, Robbie Fradd and Ryan Maloney. He has got the cream of the crop and with Nick being his only apprentice that is another plus for the young rider in terms of getting rides where Glen’s regulars want to use a jockey with a claim.

When you are on a good run you have to make the most of it.

All credit to Nick because, right now, that is exactly what he is doing.

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Damian Browne
Damian Browne
Chris Waller
Chris Waller
Nick Keal
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