Wonder mare Winx canters to Horse of Year three-peat
Source: Brendan Cormick
Winx’s dominance on the track was again reflected off track last night as she polled maximum votes to join Sunline and Black Caviar as a three-time winner as Australian Horse of the Year.
Racing luminaries gathered at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre for the awards presentation that had Team Winx not only collect the major honour but also the Champion Middle Distance category. The 50 judges comprised of national media and handicappers awarded her three votes in each title.
Winx’s owners Peter Tighe, Debbie Kepitis and Richard Treweeke accepted the accolades while trainer Chris Waller received the Bart Cummings Award for most Group I wins (13) by a trainer, of which Winx provided six. Hugh Bowman took the equivalent award for jockeys with nine Group I wins.
Winx saddles up for a shot at her 28th consecutive win tomorrow, at Flemington in the $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).
Waller and Bowman were at the track yesterday morning and could not fault her appearance and attitude in a maintenance gallop on the inside grass.
“She hasn’t got the world’s best rating for nothing but we just need to make sure she remains the same and she’ll do that,” Waller said. “So it will take a champion to beat her or a day when she is no longer as dominant as she has been, but there has certainly been no signs of that.”
Back to Flemington and the scene of one of the most imposing victories Winx recorded in eight appearances last season, the Turnbull Stakes will be her final lead-up to a tilt at a fourth Cox Plate on October 27.
She is in great fettle. Bowman said she seems stronger and more relaxed. Waller has his staff photograph her every Monday and comparing last year’s corresponding image with this week’s, the trainer is convinced Winx looks better.
Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling was crowned Champion stayer while Golden Slipper winner Estijaab took out Champion Two-Year-Old. The Everest winner last year, Redzel, captured Champion Sprinter while his rivals in tomorrow week’s renewal — colt Trapeze Artist and filly Shoals — won their respective three-year-old categories.
Snitzel, whose progeny include Redzel and Trapeze Artist, was Champion Sire. Gold Medals was a worthy winner of Champion Jumper.
Waller concedes three-year-old Dealmaker has had an interrupted preparation but he remains hopeful the talented colt can emulate his sire in the Group I Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick tomorrow.
The colt is a son of Dundeel, who raced in Australia as It’s A Dundeel and won the 2012 Spring Champion Stakes and claimed the Sydney triple crown for three-year-olds the following autumn. Lightly raced Dealmaker broke his maiden at his third start, in June over 1550m on the Kensington track at Randwick. In two starts since then he has finished third in the Ming Dynasty (1400m) and a close second to Spring Champion rival Tarka in the Stan Fox Stakes (1500m).
He goes into tomorrow’s Spring Champion (2000m) at Randwick with a month between runs after a slight setback.
“He’s had a chequered preparation. He had a slightly elevated temperature and went to the paddock for a few days but has since returned a normal blood profile,” Waller said, adding Dealmaker had a barrier trial last week.
“I don’t think 2000 metres will be a problem and he’s coming out of the right form lines.”
With Hugh Bowman and Kerrin McEvoy riding at Flemington, Waller has called on champion jockey Damien Oliver to bypass the Melbourne meeting to head to Sydney to ride Dealmaker.
Additional reporting: AAP