RV’s brazen attempt to buy champ’s presence
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.