RV’s brazen at­tempt to buy champ’s pres­ence

The Sportsman Weekend - - News - By Ray Hickson

YOU al­most have to feel sorry for the con­nec­tions of cham­pion Winx.

Sure, it’d be filed in the ‘first world prob­lem’ or ‘good prob­lem to have’ cat­e­gory but the great mare, still en­joy­ing a well earned break, is about to be the cen­tre of a mas­sive in­ter­state tug war.

No­body says it pub­licly, but Racing Vic­to­ria’s prize­money in­crease an­nounce­ment last week had ‘we want Winx’ writ­ten all over it.

Prize­money in­creases are great for the in­dus­try, and for the most part RV is do­ing

right thing by the par­tici- pants in the state.

Some in­creases are long over­due (e.g. The Cool­more to $1m), some puz­zling (a $2m Caulfield Guineas – the field won’t be one horse bet­ter for dou­ble the prize­money), and some timely when it comes to grass­roots and equine wel­fare.

But, come on, RV have ba­si­cally said to Chris Waller and the own­ers – ‘here’s the ideal Spring cam­paign for Winx’ and thrown cash at races they see as her per­fect Mel­bourne Cox Plate path.

Michael Brow­ell, Moonee Val­ley CEO, won­dered pub­licly ear­lier in the week as to why the MVRC (and the Cox Plate) was largely over­looked (aside from a cou­ple of pal­try $50,000 lifts to sprint fea­tures).

Winx is al­ready con­firmed to be head­ing to­wards racing im­mor­tal­ity and a third Cox Plate. That’s your an­swer, Michael.

Though he does have a point, the Cox Plate was the high­est rated race in Aus­tralia last year and re­mains $3m.

What is in doubt is the pro­gram get­ting to the Plate that Chris Waller will set mare.

As I said, I’m sure it’s a great prob­lem to have. But wouldn’t you like a dol­lar for ev­ery time he’s asked where Winx is go­ing be­tween now and her re­turn?

If last year is any guide then he’ll be think­ing kick Winx off in the War­wick Stakes (1400m, Au­gust 19), head to the Chelms­ford (1600m, Septem­ber 2) and the Ge­orge Main Stakes Septem­ber 16).

From there his op­tions are head to Mel­bourne for the Caulfield Stakes (in which she won a three horse race last year) or stay in Syd­ney for the mooted but not yet con­firmed change to the 2000m Craven Plate (both races on Oc­to­ber 14).

What RV has done with its “en­hanced pro­gram of weight-for-age racing” is dou­bled the Mem­sie Stakes (1400m, Septem­ber 2) to $1 mil­lion, lifted the Makybe Diva (1600m, Septem­ber 16) and Un­der­wood Stakes (1800m, Oc­to­ber 1) to $750,000

thrown $400,000 at the Caulfield Stakes (2000m) to make it an­other $1m race.

Sounds like a very en­tic­ing spring pro­gram, doesn’t it?

At this point, pend­ing a prize­money an­nounce­ment by Racing NSW which to be fair has yet to be done for the com­ing sea­son, if it’s all about money then Mel­bourne is in box seat.

If it’s not we’re all go­ing to be kept guess­ing.

Now, just an aside, an­other ques­tion raised by the Vic­to­rian prize­money boost – apart from Winx ap­peal – is why does the Mem­sie need to be $1m?

With due re­spect to race, which has been won by some great horses over the years, it is a start­ing point. It’s only been Group 1 since 2013 and don’t get me started on that.

Waller, ever the diplo­mat, will likely say all op­tions are open at this point un­til Winx is back in work and head­ing to­wards a trial.

Of course last year he had pro­gram ce­mented in place and wound up aban­don­ing Winx’s sec­ondup run in the Chelms­ford due to a very heavy track. Where Winx races is

valu­able to the racing ju­ris­dic­tion.

Some 27,000 plus turned up to see Winx win the Queen El­iz­a­beth Stakes and you can al­most guar­an­tee ‘house full’ sign will be up at the Val­ley come Oc­to­ber 28.

Just about all the other race meet­ings in ques­tion, in both states, could ben­e­fit greatly from an ap­pear­ance by Winx who will be out to make it 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 wins on end (as­sum­ing a stan­dard five start cam­paign).

The ex­cep­tion is prob­a­bly the Rand­wick meet­ing on Oc­to­ber 14 that will fea­ture

in­au­gu­ral run­ning of The Ever­est, the $10 mil­lion sprint.

An ap­pear­ance there by Winx could pro­vide a dream start to the con­cept, add that air of ex­cite­ment, and pro­vide it a plat­form to grow into the fu­ture.

We also have re­mem­ber that Winx is ris­ing six and an in­ter­na­tional cam­paign has been pen­cilled in for the sec­ond half of 2018.

So in some re­spect you can’t blame RV or Racing NSW for want­ing her right now, in the mean­time we await next surge in this thor­ough­bred tug of war.

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