Waller says no to Flemington with Winx heading to spelling paddock
Trainer Chris Waller called a late afternoon press conference on Derby Eve to announce that Winx has earned a well-deserved spell.
Waller indicated Winx will return to racing in the autumn, although her comeback race has not been decided, while an overseas campaign is being considered with a start in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot next June a likely target.
Winx scored her 22nd consecutive win when she claimed her third Cox Plate at Moonee Valley last Saturday and pulled up so well from that race that Waller seriously considered pressing on to the Group 1 $2 million Emirates Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday week
But after deliberating with owners Peter Tighe, Debbie Kepitis and Richard Treweeke, and jockey Hugh Bowman, the decision was made to send Winx to the spelling paddock.
“We think the time is right for her to have a break,’’ Waller said.
“This has been her longest preparation so far, she has been successful in all five starts, and we are mindful of her longevity.
“With Winx, we have never asked her to do too much (each preparation). We dare to dream, dare to hope this horse continues to do well and this remarkable story goes a little further.’’
Waller admitted Winx pulled up so well after the Cox Plate that it made the decision to spell and miss the Emirates Stakes even more difficult.
The announcement will be a blow to the Victoria Racing Club as Winx is the sport’s biggest drawcard. But it is in keeping with Waller’s careful management and placement of the champion mare over the last three years, which has been instrumental in ensuring her famous winning streak remains intact.
Waller said is he unsure of Winx’s comeback run in the autumn as the mighty mare moves closer to Black Caviar’s record of 25 consecutive wins.
The trainer said all options would be considered for Winx’s return including the Group 2 Apollo Stakes at Royal Randwick, a race she has won the last two years. He also mentioned the Orr Stakes and Futurity Stakes, both Group 1 races at Caulfield, and the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes at Randwick as possible return races for the mighty mare.
Waller is due to meet with Royal Ascot’s international equine recruiter, Nick Smith, on Monday where they will discuss a possible international race campaign for Winx.
“I think realistically we could look at the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, a race that Frankel won (2012),’’ the trainer said.
“It is a straight mile which would be unchartered waters for Winx but over a distance we would see the best from her. It is a long way away and we will just take it one race at a time.’’