Winx elevated to legendary status with third Cox Plate triumph
Source: LAUREN WOOD AND SCOTT GULLAN, Herald Sun /
TRIPLE Cox Plate-winning champion Winx could be back for a shot at a fourth, but this spring seems over for the superstar. The blistering mare wrote her name into history at Moonee Valley this afternoon, winning a third-straight Cox Plate to equal the feat of Kingston Town.
There had been hope that Winx would run in the Emirates Stakes on the final day of the Flemington carnival but the immediate reaction following her long neck victory was to head to the spelling paddock.
“If I put it into percentages now to avoid all the questions in the next couple of days, I would say she is only a 40 per cent chance of going to the Emirates Stakes and obviously 60 per cent chance she will spell,” Waller said.
Asked about coming back to pursue a record fourth Cox Plate victory next year, Waller said: “She has won three, it’s possible.”
Waller said he wanted to let the dust settle on her record-equalling 15th Group 1 win and wouldn’t make a final decision on Flemington until at least Tuesday.
“She will be well looked after either way it goes, the horse comes first,” he said.
Taking on the world is definitely on the agenda although a Japan Cup start also looks increasingly unlikely.
A Royal Ascot campaign is more likely next year.
Today belonged to Winx with the six-year-old notching her 22nd victory in a rowafter she and jockey Hugh Bowman narrowly held sway over a gallant Humidor, who came close to running down the champ. Import Folkswood finished third.
Waller this week described the race as Winx’s “Grand Final” and she delivered the equivalent of two-point victory kicking against the breeze in front of a sold-out Moonee Valley crowd that hung on her every stride.
Three times a legend: Winx and jockey Hugh Bowman return to scale to approval of an adoring crowd. Picture: David CairdSource:News Corp Australia
The victory capped three brilliant victories at the Valley for the mare, who takes her total career prize money to more than $15 million, with Bowman having piloted her to all three Cox Plate honours.
Winning jockey Hugh Bowman said afterwards: “I just can’t explain, really. It has been such a build up and they said when we won last year nothing can prepare you for what you are in for next year. And he was right. I am lost for words.
“She will be recognised as one of the greatest horses to grace the Australian turf and to be a part of her career, I can’t explain how much that means. She is the type of horse that you dream of. Everyone dreams of a horse like this.”
Co-owner Peter Tighe said after the triumph: “Everything fell into place. The planning of Chris Waller was exceptional again and she has proved how great she is and we have grateful that we own her and grateful that she races here in Australia. It is all surreal. We are just going through the motions at the moment. We will appreciate it later but at the moment we will just celebrate it.”
Hugh Bowman celebrates as Winx beats the fast-finishing Humidor (left) to make it three consecutive Cox Plates. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Waller acknowledged it was a tight finish as she fought the fast-finishing Humdor.
“It was close, as you would expect in a Cox Plate,” he said.
“You never know what is going to happen on a racetrack and it was great to see her moving forward in that normal style, but gee, Humidor gave us a hell of a fight.
“Fortunately we got the upper hand and yeah, well done to the connections of all runners. They have run second to a very good horse.
Humidor loomed at the 150m and for a few strides looked as though he may pass Winx.
“She had more to give,” Bowman said.
“You don’t expect, with any horse, to win 22 races in a row. So along that sequence I have never gone into a race saying we will win today, because you always have to respect what happens on a racetrack. I am pleased she has done it for the crowd and most importantly the horse.”
Hugh Bowman acknowledges the adoring crowd after the mighty mare’s brave win. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Waller just knew she was primed for a great performance when he saw her this morning.
Winx was a picture of health and strength, he said, and that was when he knew the pressure was off ahead of a shot at a third consecutive Cox Plate.
“Up until this morning … it’s been intense,” he said, choking up. “This morning when I saw her, she was picture perfect. That’s when the pressure stopped.”
Walking into history: Hugh Bowman embarks on the victory parade with the star of the show. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Waller said the victory is “a huge relief” that he didn’t have the training under his belt for.
“It’s a sporting population that really embraces her,” he said.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever been involved in, and may not get that opportunity again. I’ve got to take it in, but I’ve got to enjoy it and appreciate it as well.”
An emotional co-owner Debbie Keptis after Winx’s amazing achievement. Picture: Lawrence PinderSource:News Corp Australia
As Darren Weir’s Humidor surged on the straight, endless questions streamed through Waller’s head.
But he had the ultimate answer.
“A lot of things,” he smiled.
“It was just ‘will she? Won’t she?’, and ‘where’s the post? How’s the other horse going? What is the other horse?’.
“I’ve got Winx. We’ll be right. We got there. It’s as simple as that.”
ALL-TIME LEADING PRIZEMONEY EARNERS
1 Winx $15,627,930
2 Makybe Diva $14,526,690
3 Sunline $11,351,610
4 Northerly $9,341,850
5 So You Think $8,813,497
6 Chautauqua $8,776,935
7 Black Caviar $7,953,936
8 Buffering $7,300,190
9 Criterion $7,268,869
10 Redzel $7,195,250
MOST GROUP 1 WINS
15 Winx, Black Caviar
14 Kingston Town
13 Sunline, Tie The Knot
11 Manikato, Lonhro, Rough Habit
25 Black Caviar
19 Gloaming, Desert Gold
15 Bernborough, Carbine
14 Phar Lap
12 Tulloch, Firestick
11 Kingston Town, Eurythmic, Beau Livre, Somerset Fair, Barakey
Dynamo duo: Hugh Bowman and trainer Chris Waller with their third Cox Plate. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
She’s done it: The Winx connections celebrate the incredible win on the track. Picture: David CairdSource:News Corp Australia
HOW THE RACE WAS WON
With Michael Manely
Winx was edgy in the stalls and there was some apprehension she might miss the start as she’s done before but to the relief of the crowd she jumped with them. Gailo Chop was best to jump and as expected took the lead.
Hugh Bowman was happy to sit four wide in sixth position. Gailo Chop was in front at the post from Folkswood who had worked across. Winx was three wide at the post with Hardham and Seaburge on her inside. Humidor settled a clear last.
The field was in the format it would stay in for a lengthy duration. Gailo Chop led by length from Folkswood with Seaburge and Hardham together in third and fourth placing. Winx was fifth and Humidor was sixth on the fence.
Refer to previous field placement as Gailo Chop was still a clear leader from Folkswood with Hardham and Seaburge third and fourth. Bowman had eased Winx out three wide and she was looking ominous in fifth placing. Humidor was sixth on her inside.
Bowman had eased Winx into the three wide running line and although she was fifth she had closed on the leaders out three wide. The expectation was Bowman was ready to let her go and she was going to win easily. Humidor has eased off the fence and was on the outside of Seaburge. Royal Symphony was trying to get on Winx’s back in sixth placing.
POINT OF TURN
Winx had cruised on the outside of Folkswood and Gailo Chop and looked set to win by any margin. Humidor was sneaking into the race in fourth placing and was going well.
Winx looked home but all of a sudden Humidor emerged out wide. The crowd was almost in a state of shock there was a challenger. For a stride or two it looked as if Humidor could beat her but she extended to hold on.
Winx (third from left) holds out the fast-finishing Humidor. Picture: AAPSource:AAP