HAPPY 21ST, WINX

NOW, BRING ON THE COX PLATE

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - FRONT PAGE - LEO SCHLINK IN MEL­BOURNE

THE reprise is com­plete.

Af­ter an in­ci­dent-marred Syd­ney cam­paign, Winx’s re­turn to in­vin­ci­bil­ity was sealed with a spine-tin­gling Group 1 Turn­bull Stakes (2000m) win at Flem­ing­ton yes­ter­day – leav­ing trainer Chris Waller and jockey Hugh Bow­man search­ing for su­perla­tives.

Trem­bling with emo­tion af­ter the won­der mare’s 21st suc­ces­sive vic­tory, Waller said Winx’s health and rep­u­ta­tion re­mained over­rid­ing fac­tors as she bids for a record-equalling third suc­ces­sive Cox Plate at Moonee Val­ley on Oc­to­ber 28.

“We don’t want her to dis­ap­point,” Waller said af­ter Winx posted her 25th tri­umph from 31 starts, un­der­pin­ning her stand­ing as the world’s best turf gal­loper.

“There’s al­ways so much sup­port. There’s al­ways one per cent of doubters, but we proved them wrong to­day.

“She needs to be at her best to go to ev­ery race. She’s got a big rep­u­ta­tion and she won’t re­tire with mul­ti­ple un­placed runs next to her name.

“One race at a time and while she keeps win­ning, she keeps the dream alive.

“Ob­vi­ously we’re keen to get her over­seas to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia, or this part of the world, so we’ll see what hap­pens.”

Boost­ing her prize­money to $13.7 mil­lion, an un­ex­tended Winx thumped her six ri­vals, pre­vail­ing by 6½ lengths over Ven­tura Storm and way­ward Hu­mi­dor.

“(It’s) pretty spe­cial,” Bow­man said. “No sur­prise, be­lieve it or not.

“She was back to her­self to­day. She was very un­en­thu­si­as­tic last start, for some rea­son or other.

“Maybe she just had a bit of a day where she just didn’t want to do it, but she still did it in style.

“She’s cer­tainly back to where we know she is.”

Waller said Winx would now have an easy time ahead of her date with Cox Plate des­tiny, re­veal­ing he still be­lieves her best is yet to come.

“She’s a bril­liant horse and what­ever you ask her to do, she does,” he said. “She makes us all look good. “There’s no train­ing man­ual for a horse like Winx. She makes me feel pretty spe­cial.

“What a great horse. She’s very spe­cial. It’s great that the pub­lic can em­brace her. All of her wins have been so spe­cial.

“Look wher­ever she goes, whether it’s the Sun­shine Coast, whether it’s Rose­hill, Doomben, Rand­wick, Moonee Val­ley, Flem­ing­ton, Caulfield, she just does a great job.

“When she gets wound up and lets go, it’s pretty siz­zling.”

Book­mak­ers were as clearly taken with Winx’s re­sound­ing vic­tory as the 20,822 spec­ta­tors at Flem­ing­ton.

UBET trimmed Winx from $1.40 to $1.25 for the Cox Plate, trig­ger­ing con­jec­ture she could chal­lenge Phar Lap’s 1931 record ($1.07) as the short­est- price favourite to start in the race.

Hit­ting a peak speed of 65.6km/h, 1.3km/h quicker than next-fastest Hu­mi­dor, Winx ran her fi­nal 1000m in 57.51sec and her clos­ing 400m in 22.91sec.

Re­gan Bayliss, who part­nered run­ner-up Ven­tura Storm, was gob­s­macked by Winx’s su­pe­ri­or­ity.

“He (Ven­tura Storm) was ter­rific. She’s just the best horse in the world,” he said.

“I’ve never seen a horse put so many lengths on me in a short amount of space with­out any pres­sure.”

There’s no train­ing man­ual for a horse like Winx. She makes me feel pretty spe­cial CHRIS WALLER

SPINE-TIN­GLING: Winx wins at Flem­ing­ton and (right) jockey Hugh Bow­man hugs part-owner Deb­bie Kepi­tis af­ter the tri­umph. Pic­tures: Alex Cop­pel, Getty Im­ages

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