Racing year in review: Winx and Hugh Bowman prove they are the world’s best

Source: SMH – Chris Roots //

Story of the Year: Winx

From dominating the autumn to the sheer grit of a champion refusing to lose in the spring, Winx brought racing back into the public domain in 2017. She started nine times for nine wins, her second consecutive unbeaten calendar year and her winning streak stands at 22.

From her reappearance in February’s Apollo Stakes, which drew 6000 punters to Randwick after the meeting was transferred to a Monday because of heatwave conditions, to her crowning moment, a third Cox Plate to match Kingston Town, Winx delivered spectacularly – and in many different ways.

She waltzed through the autumn on her preferred soft surfaces, winning three group 1s, the most impressive a 7¼-length win in the George Ryder Stakes, where she made Le Romain, a group 1 winner at his previous start, and Chautauqua, which would win the TJ Smith at his next, look like common hacks. “She reminds me of Frankel,” Godolphin English jockey William Buick said after the race.

The spring was different. She had to work for her wins. Gone were the big margins but it was a show of her quality on hard tracks. She would take the best her opponents could throw at her and still win. The efforts of her rivals often ending their preparations broken hearted.

The Cox Plate was supposed to be a Winx parade, like it had been for the previous two years, but when Humidor loomed in the straight it looked to be a fracture fairytale, until Winx put her head down and held him off. Hugh Bowman roaring his approval as he crossed the line.

Winner: Hugh Bowman

Hugh Bowman’s association with Winx put him in the spotlight, but his remarkable 2017 was not just about the super mare. He won 16 group 1s in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan and was crowned the world’s best jockey. Bowman won six group 1s on Winx but perhaps his best rides on her weren’t group 1s, rather the Warwick Stakes, where she blew the start by half a dozen lengths, and the Chelmsford Stakes, where she tracked down a runaway Red Excitement. He has the patience, aggression and horsemanship, which makes him the equal of any that have sat in the saddle in Australia. He capped the year by going to Japan for a short stint and winning the country’s biggest race – the Japan Cup where he was brilliant aboard Cheval Grand.