Queen Anne was Winx’s for the taking
Source: Shane Anderson /
There is no doubt about it, a fit and well Winx would have decimated the field in the Queen Anne Stakes had Chris Waller elected to travel.
With her international rating at 130, Winx is the highest rated horse in 2018 and the only serious threat to that will come from Cracksman, already a two-time Group 1 winner this season and out to add to that haul in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on Wednesday.
Waller was eying off running Winx in the Queen Anne Stakes and it was one of the great talking points in world racing until the Hall of Fame trainer elected to focus on winning a fourth Cox Plate in preference to international travel, telling the world in March that she was staying home.
While the Queen Anne Stakes had a line-up of Group 1 winners including multiple Group 1 winning mare Rhododendron, Cox Plate invitees Yoshida, Recoletos and Benbatl, the overall standard of the field was average compared to recent years.
Based on what we saw, the race would have worked out perfectly for her.
The tempo was solid, no different to what she deals with regularly at home.
The ground was rated Good To Firm but there were no major complaints that it was too hard a surface.
The so called big guns flopped – the first three home in the race were all outsiders, with Rhododendron, Yoshida, Recoletos and Benbatl all performing well below expectations. There were holes in their Group 1 winning form and that was well on display here.
Victory went to Accidental Agent, giving trainer Eve Johnson Houghton and jockey Charles Bishop their first Group 1 successes when springing a 33/1 upset. Accidental Agent had a previous official handicapper’s rating of 109 and this was clearly his best performance. But it was not a genuine Group 1 performance.
Lord Glitters, with an official rating of 107, took the runner up position at 20/1 while the consistent Lightning Spear finished third at 10/1.
The reality is, except for Winx, Cracksman and Enable, the vast majority of Group 1 performers on the global stage are just very good horses. There are few champions. Winx is that, one of the greatest champions.
The horses that raced in the Queen Anne, and that will race in the Prince of Wales’s (Cracksman aside) and the other Group 1 races this week at Royal Ascot are good horses, but they are not superstars.
To my read, they are no better than Hartnell, Humidor, Black Heart Bart, or the many other Group 1 performers that she has destroyed consistently on the track.
Winx would likely have produced a Frankel-like winning margin if she had run to her best, as the unbeaten champion destroyed his rivals in the 2012 Queen Anne Stakes by 11-lengths.
She has run the two quickest times in the Cox Plate since Moonee Valley was renovated in the mid 90s, and owns the greatest winning margin in Cox Plate history. She would have embarrassed the Queen Anne field, which was arguably weaker than the fields she bested in her three Plate wins.
Would it have done more for her reputation? Only in the eyes of the Europeans, but does that really matter?
The Queen Anne would have been a gimme for the great mare, it was hers for the taking.
But I’m glad she is staying in Australia, targeting another piece of racing history. A fourth Cox Plate success will be her crowning achievement.