Chris Waller welcomes Kementari’s challenge to Winx in George Ryder Stakes

Source: RAY THOMAS, The Daily Telegraph /

WINX’S trainer Chris Waller and jockey Hugh Bowman has welcomed Godolphin’s decision to test their emerging colt Kementari against the great mare in the $1 million George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Kementari is among only five runners brave enough to take on Winx who is aiming for her 24th successive win and a world record 17th at Group 1 level.

A striking near-black three-year-old colt, Kementari is on a winning streak of his own, claiming his last three starts including the Group 1 Randwick Guineas.

But Winx sweeping aside would-be challengers for three years now so why should Kementari be any different?

Waller might have boundless confidence in Winx but he is respectful of the “new kid on the block’’.

“Kementari has been very impressive in his runs this preparation. It’s good to see form horses taking her on,’’ Waller said.

Winx’s jockey Hugh Bowman also likes what he sees from the talented Kementari.

“It’s going to be interesting to see Kementari line up against this field,’’ Bowman said. “It will give us a good line on the quality of the three-year-olds and he is the benchmark up to the mile.’’

Winx returns to her home track on Saturday which 12 months ago was the scene of arguably the greatest win of her spectacular career — her 7¼ lengths demolition of Le Romain and Chautauqua in the George Ryder Stakes.

“She does love it here at Rosehill,’’ Bowman said at trackwork earlier this week.

“It’s her home track and she doesn’t get to race here too often. I didn’t think it so much when she won her first George Ryder (2016) but I certainly felt she was enjoying being on her home track last year — and it was one of her best performances in my opinion.’’

Waller also believes Winx is ready to produce a similar high-rating performance in Saturday’s race so what are the expectations of Kementari’s trainer, James Cummings?

Winx returned with a crushing win in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick. Picture: AAP

Winx returned with a crushing win in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

“Of course, coming up against Winx is something we have the greatest respect for,’’ Cummings said.

“We have our feet firmly on the ground when it comes to appreciating how far behind Winx he is when it comes to achievement and world rankings, but nevertheless he is a rising star.

“We expect our colt to run well and like everybody else, we look forward to seeing Winx step out as well. Even if this isn’t as big a race as the Slipper, I’m sure it will attract nearly as much attention.”

Happy Clapper has finished behind Winx in six previous clashes. The closest he has got to the great mare was in the George Main Stakes last spring when beaten one-and-a-quarter lengths.

Trainer Pat Webster said Happy Clapper needs to run today to be at his peak for the $3 million Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick on Day One of The Championships, April 7.

“This race is an important part of his preparation going into the Doncaster,’’ Webster said.

“I have to run ‘The Clapper” — there’s no point in us dodging Winx.

“My daughter knows nothing about racing and she said ‘Look on the bright side Dad, at least they’ll still be watching ‘Clapper’ in 50 years’ time. He’s run second to Winx that many times they’ll be watching him too’.’’

Originally published as Bring it on: Waller welcomes new kid on the block