HAPPY 21ST WINX WINS AGAIN
Tigers roar on champion mare to a grand finale
WONDER mare Winx came of age yesterday — winning her 21st successive race in front of a crowd of more than 20,000 at Flemington.
Richmond premiership players, including Jack Riewoldt and Dion Prestia, were among those trackside for the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes in an unofficial start to Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival.
The Tigers marked yet another victory as a horse part-owned by Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin took out an earlier race.
It was Winx’s 25th overall race victory and her 21st in a row across 910 days — thrashing six “rivals” by a breathtaking 6½ lengths.
Emotional trainer Chris Waller issued a warning that the successful $1.20 favourite could still have some improvement left for the Cox Plate after effortlessly opening her Flemington account. Waller said the win was a relief as much as anything else. Winx is now $1.25 to win a third successive Cox Plate and join Kingston Town as the only horse in history to win the race three times.
“She is a brilliant horse, and whatever you ask her to do, she does,” Waller said.
“There is so much support (for her). There is always 1 per cent of doubters, but she proved most of them wrong today, I would say.
“When she gets wound up and lets go, it is pretty scintillating.”
Winx’s stunning performance took the collective margin from her 21-race streak to almost 60 lengths, and Waller said he was happy to see her open her account at Flemington.
The build-up to the race was extraordinary.
From the moment the mare strode into the Flemington mounting yard for the first time on a raceday, swarms of the crowd swept up the lawn area in an effort to get a vantage point near the finishing post.
As she went out on the track, a host of jockeys not riding in the race looked for their own spot to watch. They went to the clock tower and took up two levels looking out across to the track to the 2000m start.
Earlier, Martin’s winning ways — and those of a handful of his Richmond teammates — rolled on beyond last week’s AFL Grand Final when a horse he part-owns, Main Stage, turned in a slashing Victoria Derby trial in winning the UCI Stakes. While Martin wasn’t on course to see the aptly named son of Reliable Man take out the listed race, a few of his teammates were there to celebrate.
Midfielder Shaun Grigg isn’t among the part-owners but was also a winner, having backed the horse — named in a nod to Dusty’s sporting prowess.
“It’s sort of named after him because as we all know he produces on the main stage,” Grigg said. “You can’t back against him. Dusty’s won nearly every award there is this year.
“Obviously, he’s cleaned up. It’s a pity Dusty’s not here, but who knows where he is.”