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By Graham Potter | Saturday, September 2, 2023

When the French import Chernak returned from a one month freshen-up at Eagle Farm on August 12, the Chris Waller stable engaged Mark Du Plessis for the ride as they searched for an overdue win.

Chernak duly saluted in a BM78 Handicap over 2206m, although he was pushed by the last start winner and more than useful Chase ‘N’ Artie in a race in which he got home by 0.48 lengths. That was Chernak’s second win in nine starts in Australia and there had been a vote of confidence for him in the betting beforehand as he shortened from $8 to a starting price $6.50.

In his three starts prior to that victory, Chernak had been ridden by three different jockeys, but now the astute Waller stable wasn’t about to break up a winning combination and Du Plessis retained the ride when, three weeks later, the stable accepted for Chernak to contest another BM78 Handicap over virtually the same trip (2200m).

The difference this time was that Chernak went up drastically in the weights (from 53.5kg to 57kg). The stable was happy to take on that challenge though, and their judgement proved spot on as a new Chernak, who was now clearly relishing his racing, overpowered his opposition to claim a facile 3.75 length victory, putting back-to-back wins in the record books.

And while Chernak was far too good for his opposition, it was a peach of a ride from Du Plessis which helped the import showcase his obviously still developing talent.

Du Plessis was happy to take Chernak (the $4.40 second favourite) back in the early part and the Waller runner raced all of seven lengths off the speed as Coupe De Tonnerre ($5.50) sped away from the field at the head of affairs.

Du Plessis was patience-personified from all the way until the start of the sweep to the home turn, after which he started digging Chernak up along the inside running rail.

The combination of saving ground and quickening nicely on cue saw Chernak advance right up to third place, now just two lengths off the long-time leader Coupe De Tonnerre on straightening.

Anticipating that front-runner was due to tire, Du Plessis wasted little time in switching around Coupe De Tonnerre’s heels early in the straight.

With a clear run home, Du Plessis then asked Chernak to show what he had in him … and it was plenty with the Waller running staying on strongly to have the race well and truly within his keeping long before the finish line.

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Photos: Darren Winningham
Photos: Darren Winningham
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