Lifting the cover on wonder mare Winx

Source: PATRICK BARTLEY & MICHAEL LYNCH, The Sydney Morning Herald /

She’s the star of the Australian turf, smashing prizemoney records with every start and drawing big crowds whenever she steps out.

You might think then, that the insurance policy covering Winx would be worth a Queen’s ransom. But you would be wrong. On Saturday, she careered away with the Chipping Norton Stakes, pushing her prizemoney to more than $16 million. But her insurance coverage is a fraction of those earnings.

Co-owner Peter Tighe told his wonder mare was reinsured every year and at the moment “is only for a few million”.

Tighe said it was a deliberate choice.

“Every September we rework the policy on Winx. The owners are in three groups and we all choose how much we will have her insured for. Really I think it’s only a few million. We get a valuation from a bloodstock agent and work from there,” Tighe said.

The earning potential of top colts at stud is much greater than that of a mare such as Winx.

Horses can be insured only against death and if Winx is injured, she will still be able to go to stud and have a breeding career.

Tighe said a final decision on whether Winx stays in Australia or goes to England will be made on March 24, something her trainer, Chris Waller, confirmed.

‘‘I and the owners have been trying to put off the decision as long as we can,’’ said Waller, torn between the rigours of an overseas campaign and the glory awaiting her if she can win an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate.

He says there should be no stigma attached to Winx if a decision was taken not to emulate the likes of Black Caviar and win at Royal Ascot.

‘‘She doesn’t deserve to have an asterisk attached to her name and it would be unfair,’’ Waller said.

‘‘People are more than free to have their opinions … overseas travel is an important thing, but people need to remember they can come and race in Australia for three times the prizemoney. They can take her on in Sydney or in Melbourne, in the spring or the autumn.’’

Meanwhile, former Aquanita employee Greg Nelligan and his wife, Denise, have had their stand-down notices expanded to include being banned from Victorian racecourses, training premises and receiving any direct or indirect benefit from thoroughbred racing and/or breeding in Victoria.

Greg Nelligan, who is facing more than 100 charges related to the Aquanita inquiry, and Denise Nelligan, who is facing 13 charges, did not appear at and made no submissions to Racing Victoria stewards at their show-cause hearing on Monday.

‘‘Mr and Mrs Nelligan were stood down by the stewards from their duties as stablehands pending the hearing and determination of the charges laid against them by RC stewards on January 9, 2018,’’Racing Victoria said in a statement.

‘‘The charges against each of them include alleged breaches of the Australian rules of racing as part of the Aquanita case.’’