CONSOLIDATING his Warwick Farm operation and developing a Goulburn base has meticulous horseman Guy Walter gearing up for a Sydney carnival in anticipation.
''A top team, the best team of horses I've had for a few years and I'm very happy with them,'' the trainer told the Herald yesterday.
Heading the list are last-start group 1 winners Streama and Doctor Doom, which resume at Warwick Farm tomorrow at a meeting certain to produce several stars as the autumn carnival rolls on.
''I've been very happy with Streama and been very fortunate to be able to get a couple of trials out of her with all this bad weather,'' Walter said in regard to her running in the Light Fingers Stakes.
''We've been very, very lucky to have the course proper at Warwick Farm made available to us a few times. She has grown a little, filled out a little, not dramatically so, still not overly big.''
After winning the Furious and Tea Rose stakes in the spring, Streama strolled to a 6.3 length victory in the Flight Stakes over 1600 metres. ''You saw last time one of her best features is how adaptable she is. It doesn't matter if the pace is slow, she can sit up on it, if they go hard she can sit back and has a great turn of foot.''
Streama has been nominated for the Doncaster Mile but a decision will be made after she contests the Surround Stakes and Coolmore Classic. ''She has shown she can get a mile and she is more relaxed this time,'' Walter said. ''There is every chance later in her career she'll get further. She'll be nominated for the oaks just to keep our options open.''
Doctor Doom hasn't raced since taking out the group 1 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick in October and he will return in the Royal Sovereign. ''He has always been a beautiful looking horse, always showed ability from day one,'' Walter said. ''He is a very strong horse which has just kept improving. He has had a nice spell and there is no reason to believe he can't improve again this time in work.''
Doctor Doom emerged from a maiden win in August to claim a major but Walter decided against heading south for the Victoria Derby. The Australian Derby at Randwick is on the agenda. ''He has grown into a magnificent looking horse,'' Walter said. ''Grown and filled out, he is such a big fellow and he relishes, loves, his work.''
The man who prepared Tie The Knot to win 13 group 1 races and provided the trifecta in a Doncaster hasn't made many headlines in recent times. ''What I put it down to first of all is the cyclical nature of the game, good horses come and go,'' Walter said.
''Having the Goulburn stable has helped, I've been able to get young horses onto the grass. It is lovely to get young horses on the grass when they are learning to gallop.''
Walter has had his Goulburn stable about four years: ''It was small scale when equine influenza hit and we've built it up.''
There are 30 horses in work at Goulburn and Walter pays tribute to his staff. ''It is a very good facility down there,'' he said. ''We've got about on average 40 horses in work here at Warwick Farm. We did have two stables here but sold one and increased the size of the Goulburn operation. I race the horses out of the Warwick Farm stable.''
Horses like Tie The Knot's half-brother Hood, which goes around in the last at Warwick Farm. ''He won a race on Doncaster day, raced very well on Melbourne Cup day at Flemington,'' Walter said. ''He looks well placed, likes the wet, had a couple of trials, he should be running well.''
In the Breeders Classic, Walter will saddle up Balmont and Foxstar.
''A very nice mare [Foxstar], probably at her best around a mile but she could sprint very well fresh,'' he said. ''She is a query in wet ground and likewise Balmont. She made very good progress last campaign. She won the Nivison and then went to Melbourne, ran second up the straight to Ortensia. Balmont is a very good mare fresh.'' Skateboard, Sandberg and Hardbreak Hotel are down to run in the fourth.
''Sandberg is back to a mile, his best form is over further,'' Walter said. ''Skateboard and Hardbreak Hotel are racing very well.
''Both have got Saturday wins to their credit. Skateboard has drawn a bit better but I've got a doubt about them in wet going.''
That may be so but there's no such concern about the quality of his thoroughbred team.