Tigers roar on cham­pion mare to a grand finale

Sunday Herald Sun - - Front Page - glenn.mcfar­lane@news.com.au MORE RE­PORTS, SPORT GLENN MCFAR­LANE AND ASH­LEY ARGOON

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.”

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