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The search for Darley’s new trainer

Tue, Nov 26, 12:40pm by Daryl Curnow

Darley-StableDARLEY are only a matter of weeks away from naming who will be their new head trainer, and whilst plenty of names have been thrown into the hat, there are only a few realistic chances.

Darley have already released a statement stating that the trainer will be from Australia, but that only rules out a couple of the long shots. The early talk was that Chris Waller was the right man for the job, but after plenty of speculation surrounding the champion Sydney trainer, it’s confirmed that he’s unlikely to take the job. It’s believed that taking on another 200 (approximately) horses wouldn’t be viable for the former New Zealand trainer, but he was Darley’s first choice. However, it appears that this knowledge was known as soon as the market came out just a day after the news broke, as Waller was quoted at $51 to be the successor.

The market has since been taken down – probably because there are too many people in the know who could capitalise on the opportunity of placing a bet – but also because the decision isn’t far off and the top three contenders are pretty clear cut.

Who are the favourites for the Darley stable job?

Guy Walter is the obvious first choice as he’s saddled many horses for Darley in the past and he’s no stranger to preparing Group 1 horses – he trained Appearance to win a Group 1 for Darley – and he’s capable of training a very large team. Walter isn’t exactly downplaying the fact he wants the role as his statement appears obvious.

“I have a good relationship with them, I’ve trained for them in a small way for a number of years, and I have a high regard for the people there, but that’s all I’ll say,” said Walter.

That’s all he needs to say. It’s clear that he wants to be the new Darley trainer, and who wouldn’t? The position guarantee’s instant success due to pure numbers alone; Peter Snowden is a good trainer in all respects but Darley is the reason he’s won 27 Group 1’s, and his new successor should expect similar results. Walter leads the charge but hot on his tail is Brad Widdup, the right-hand man for Peter Snowden but a relatively unknown figure among the public. He was well-backed in the early stages of betting as he’d make the transition for Darley much smoother. He already knows the ropes of how the system works and he knows each horse individually, but there’s also a flip side.

How would someone who hasn’t been in the media eye handle such a big task? And, could he handle managing such a large team of horses, not to mention staff and relations with Darley. Whilst the transition would be easier, it’s likely Darley will opt for a proven trainer instead.

The outside chances

There are a few other chances including Bjorn Baker, John Thompson and the Singapore-based Anthony Freedman, but the only candidate we feel would suit Darley is John Thompson. He did extremely well managing the Patinack Farm team and he’s kind of like the lost soul of Australian racing. Once always in the limelight, he’s fallen off the radar and he’s too good a trainer to not have owners wanting to race with him. If he can train a large team with an unruly boss, he can most definitely train for Darley. He was originally quoted at $10 and we feel that’s a good price.

Darley will likely (hopefully) come out soon with a statement as to who they’ve interviewed, but in the meantime all we can do is speculate and try get as much information leaked through the trainers as we can.


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