Winx ready for Apollo Stakes return
Champion galloper Winx had her final hit-out at Rosehill on Thursday morning ahead of Saturday’s Apollo Stakes.
There’s no doubting the wonder mare’s star power, with a media pack flocking to the pre-dawn workout ahead of the start of what is likely to be her final racing preparation.
The mood emanating from the Chris Waller camp is that the seven-year-old is as well as ever and her two trials this campaign have been testament to that – she has looked stunning.
Speaking to the waiting media on Thursday, Waller was again full of praise for his superstar, suggesting she has again enjoyed a faultless preparation.
“Only a couple of days out from her first-up run I’m pretty comfortable knowing that the preparation has gone really well,” Waller said.
“It’s an absolute privilege to be involved with her (Winx), it’s something that will stay with us for the rest of our days.”
Speaking about Winx’s preparation, jockey Hugh Bowman said it’s been a routine build-up.
“She looks excellent in the coat and has a real glow in her eye,” Bowman said.
Waller has five other runners in Saturday’s eight-horse Apollo Stakes field and he was asked how he’d deal with one of those runners ending Winx’s record-breaking run of 29-straight wins.
“I’d be happy for the horse that won, but not so happy for Winx,” he said.
“But that’s something we’ve dealt with for a long time and we’ve only got one thing to worry about and that’s Winx being her same dominant self, she’s rated the best horse (in the world) with the latest Longines (World’s Best Racehorse) awards and if she maintains that she won’t have any problems.”
Winx has used her unbelievable turn of foot to win from seemingly impossible positions.
“The beauty of Winx is she’s arguably the fastest horse in Australia over the final 600 metres of a race, that’s the beauty of Winx, that’s why she gets herself out of trouble so often and that’s why she’s so dominant,” Waller said.
“Regardless of pace and where she is (in the run) we know that last 600 metres is sizzling and we’ve seen her break 32 seconds (for the final 600m) on a couple of occasions,” Waller asserted.
Bowman has had the best seat in the house being aboard Winx in 28 of her 33 wins and he is confident the winning steak will continue over the Autumn Carnival.
“She felt great (in her gallop), really looking forward to getting to the races, it has been a good six or eight weeks in preparation for Saturday and I’m really pleased with how she’s developed,” said Bowman.
Bowman said there’s a pressure that comes with Winx’s winning streak.
“I’m preparing for the event as much as she is,” he added.
“I’m mentally preparing for all the attention that comes with being a part of her wonderful story and as much as we are preparing her (Winx) we are also preparing ourselves.
“There’s a lot of expectation on her and us.”
Bowman intimated that the 1400m of the Apollo Stakes is Winx’s greatest test.
“The 1400m is her most vulnerable distance,” Bowman said.
“It’s about riding her to hit the line strongly so she can prepare for her runs ahead, obviously winning’s important but I’m just riding her to suit the race and what will be will be.”
If Winx has a chink in her armor it is her barrier manners, having been slowly away in her first trial at Rosehill this preparation, flopping out nearly two lengths behind the second-last horse.
“I’m always mindful of her behavior in the barriers, she can be a little fractious but she has matured with age and she hasn’t had any issues with them (the barriers) for a couple of preparations now,” said Waller.
“But it’s something I’m always very mindful of.”
Winx’s last 1400-metre race was the 2017 Warwick Stakes when she recorded the narrowest winning margin of her 29 successive wins.
Punters were left aghast as the mighty mare missed the start and spotted her stablemate Foxplay about six lengths at the 350-metre mark but a breathtaking 31.88-second last 600-metre split saw her arrive just in time.