The magic mare ignited 38,035 racegoers on her way to a fourth Cox Plate. Jockey Hugh Bowman said it was a feeling he will remember forever. “The reaction was electric.”
AN emotional Chris Waller couldn’t hold back his tears at the magnitude of his wonder horse Winx’s achievements. A quartet of Cox Plate victories sank in late yesterday, leaving the door ajar for more record-breaking heroics next year.
In front of a crowd of more than 38,000 at The Valley, where a sea of blue and white swept over the stands and lawns, Winx stormed to her 29th consecutive victory (an Australian record) and her 22nd Group 1 success (a world record) with consummate ease.
In doing so, she also became the first Australian galloper to smash through the $20 million prizemoney barrier, taking her tally to $22,934,924.
Waller, who watched the race on his own in the scales room, finally let his guard down when Winx ($1.20) was on her way back to the winner’s enclosure, having thrashed international visitor Benbatl ($10) by two lengths, with Humidor ($21) in third place.
The trainer looked up at the crowd in silent awe, took out his mobile phone and snapped a panoramic image of his horse’s adoring fans in the grandstand.
“That’s what is getting me emotional, just talking about it,” he said, with his voice quaking, of the adoration centred on his champion mare.
“I don’t really get the chance to reflect on how important she is to everyone — you hear it, (but) you don’t see it.
“I will probably take that with me for the rest of my life.”
Waller insisted there would be no immediate announcement on Winx’s future, with the trainer to sit down with part-owners Peter Tighe, Debbie Kepitis and Richard Treweeke, along with jockey Hugh Bowman, in the coming weeks.
“If the horse is well, the jockey is happy and the owner are happy to edge towards another run, whether it be the Turnbull, the Cox Plate or another race in
the autumn, we’ll march on.” Waller said.
Asked where his seven-year-old mare sat in the pantheon of racing champions, Waller said: “You just can’t upset people by saying that (she is the best), but she is the greatest I will have anything to do with.”
“We get so much feedback from people all around the world who have been touched by Winx, and if some of them are non-racing people, it is going to be very good for the game.”
Jockey Hugh Bowman said he was proud of his horse.
“I can’t believe it,” Bowman said. “The build-up of electricity that came through my body when I turned into the straight, I can’t describe.
“Everyone watching gets so much pleasure out of this wonderful horse. “The fact she has been able to do it so many times. I can’t say much more. “I’m so proud to be a part of this and so lucky to come across such an amazing athlete. “She’s apples.” Yesterday, punters placed the largest amount that the TAB had ever held on Winx in her 29 wins, with $3,104,517 taken on the mare. In Winx’s first Cox Plate, the TAB held $724,101.
Almost 90 years ago, when racing legend Phar Lap was at his peak, writer Banjo Paterson said: “You younger peo- ple that saw Phar Lap race here will be able to say when you get old: ‘Ah, don’t talk to me about racehorses. You ought to have seen Phar Lap’.”
In time, the kids decked out in their Winx caps yesterday, and the parents holding them above their heads in an effort to see her come back to scale, will likely be saying the same thing about the mighty mare.
Hugh Bowman and Winx celebrate their victory; Bowman kisses the trophy, below; trainer Chris Waller embraces Bowman after the race, right;
Hugh Bowman and wife Christine embrace as Winx coowner Patty Tighe joins the celebration. Winx fan Adam Hudson dressed as Hugh Bowman. Winx co-owners Peter Tighe and Debbie Kepitis with the four Cox Plates.