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Imperial Force to bypass Ken Russell Memorial Classic

Thu 9 May 2024

By Glenn Davis

Champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller has rolled the dice and will bypass the Group 3 Ken Russell Memorial Classic with one-time favourite Imperial Force at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.

Imperial Force and stable mates Althoff and President were acceptors on Wednesday for the 1200 metre feature.

Waller’s Gold Coast stable manager Brett Killion said only Althoff will contest the Ken Russell while Imperial Force and President would be reserved for a race at Gosford on Saturday.

“The decision not to send up Imperial Force and President was made late on Wednesday,” Killion said.

“Althoff raced well at his only start in Sydney, so we expect him to be competitive before hopefully going on further in the winter.”

Althoff arrived safely early Wednesday after an overnight float trip to Waller’s Gold Coast stables along with old warhorse Kukeracha, Queensland Derby hopeful Tannhauser and Gold Coast Guineas hope Chrysaor.

Waller has never won the Group 3 Ken Russell Memorial Classic despite several attempts in recent years.

His best result was with Ranch Hand who was nosed out by the Matthew Dunn-trained Subterranean in the 2021 edition.

Imperial Force drew the car park in barrier 19 in the Ken Russell Memorial while he drew a better gate at Gosford.

Both tracks are rated a Heavy 10 with further rain forecast.

All three Waller youngsters are among nominations for the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes and Group 1 J. J. Atkins at Eagle Farm next month.

Imperial Force was a runaway winner when he broke his maiden status at Canterbury in the middle of April while Althoff finished a close second on debut behind the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Ikasara at Rosehill on April 27.

A major market reshuffle is likely once Imperial Force is withdrawn as the Ciaron Maher-trained Perspiration is a current $3.90 favourite in fixed betting.

Perspiration - a Mark Zahra mount - finished second on debut in Sydney before he was sent to Melbourne for two runs including a last start victory in the Mornington Sires over 1200 metres on April 20.

Maher is hopeful Perspiration can claim his first stakes race in the Ken Russell ahead of a the BRC Sires’ Produce and possibly the J. J. Atkins, a race he won last year with King Colorado.

Like Waller, Maher is yet to win the Ken Russell Memorial Classic after failing at his only attempt with Emphatically who finished fifth in the 2015 edition.