WINX LEGEND CONTINUES TO GROW AS SHE ENJOYS THE GOOD TIMES
Source: RAY THOMAS, The Daily Telegraph /
WINX may not be appreciating the hard tracks, she has had three tough runs in succession, the earmuffs are dulling her race sense, she needs a longer distance. All these theories and more were floated after Winx turned imminent defeat into another remarkable and ultimately easy win in the Group 1 George Main Stakes at Royal Randwick last Saturday.
The champion mare has become thrilling, compelling theatre this spring as she defies logic to extend her famous winning streak. Amid all the confusion and euphoria of another Winx triumph last Saturday, her trainer Chris Waller was relaxed and confident after the race. And why wouldn’t he be? Winx had just won her 20th race in succession, her 13th Group 1, to take her prizemoney to nearly $13.5 million. Rival trainers and jockeys trying to beat Winx are in awe of the great mare’s ability, determination and acceleration. Blake Shinn, rider of Happy Clapper, felt his horse was travelling like a winner at the 400m and said it was a humbling experience when Winx sprinted past to win easing down. They gapped their rivals, with Foxplay nearly five lengths away in third.
Jockey Brenton Avdulla described Foxplay as “almost the best mare in the country because I don’t call Winx a mare — she’s a freak’’. So, is Winx going as well as ever or is age, and her rivals, starting to catch up with her? A breakdown of her sectional times suggests Winx is still at the top of her game. She ran a race record time on Saturday, unleashing another tremendous surge to zoom past Happy Clapper, running her final 600m sectional in 33.54sec.
Winx came home more than a full second faster than any of her rivals with the exception of Happy Clapper, who ran 34.04sec for the final 600m. But Winx hasn’t been brilliant out of the barriers in each of her three starts this season and her rider, Hugh Bowman, was urging her along before the 800m.
It seemed to take Winx an age to respond and pick up the bit. At one point, she looked to be struggling so much that I thought the horse must be McCreery, who races in similar colours. I even feared something may have gone wrong with Winx when suddenly she moved closer to Happy Clapper, Bowman took the great mare to the centre of the track and within two or three strides she had gained control of the race.
Familiar sight: Winx and Hugh Bowman in victory. Picture: Simon Bullard
Winx retains her fierce will-to-win and, when in full flight, her acceleration is unsurpassed. Importantly, Winx has pulled up well after the George Main and although Waller is yet to confirm her next start, it is expected to be in the Craven Plate (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Everest Day, October 14. This is when Winx will finally get out over a middle distance again, which should make it easier for her to dominate the race. The four weeks between runs could also be ideal timing, giving the mare every opportunity to get over three exacting runs this season. Waller may even look to take the earmuffs off next start.
Either way, it probably doesn’t matter because Winx keeps winning anyway.