Happy 21st to Winx
THE world’s best horse on turf has done it again.
Winx made it 21 wins in a row with her dominant victory in the Group I Turnbull Stakes, her debut race at Flemington.
Jockey Hugh Bowman was pretty relaxed after guiding the six-year-old through what coowner Peter Tighe joked was an ‘‘armchair ride’’ for the ‘‘master of Winx’’.
‘‘(It’s) pretty special,’’ Bowman quipped. ‘‘No surprise, believe it or not.’’ But co-owner Debbie Kepitis couldn’t hide her emotions, no matter how much a fait accompli the win at racing’s ‘‘headquarters’’ seemed.
‘‘That is brilliant,’’ said Kepitis, again wearing her lucky black with blue and purple suit with purple streaks in her hair. ‘‘There’s just no words. ‘‘Happy 21st. ‘‘What a freak. An amazing horse.’’
As accustomed as he is to Winx’s victories, trainer Chris Waller admits to feeling relief each time she wins.
‘‘She makes us all look good in what she does,’’ he said.
‘‘There is no training manual for a horse like Winx.
‘‘We’ve managed to get it right, but she makes us get it right.’’
Winx had only raced three times in Melbourne before Saturday, winning back-to-back Cox Plates in 2015 and 2016 at Moonee Valley as well as claiming last year’s Caulfield Stakes at Caulfield.
The mighty mare’s main goal is a record-equalling third Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 28.
Her Turnbull Stakes victory took Winx’s career earnings to more than A$13.7 million.
There was a flock of big bets across the Tasman as usual but the New Zealand TAB took an $80,000 investment at $1.20 just minutes before the seven-strong field jumped at Flemington.
The bet will have returned the brave punter $96,000 for a profit of $16,000.
Two races earlier at Flemington, Main Stage secured Victoria Derby favouritism with a strong victory in the Listed UCI Stakes (1800m).
Trained by ex-pat Kiwi trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, the Kiwi-bred Main Stage beat home Cliff’s Edge by a neck with another Busuttin and Young runner, Johnny Vinko, a further one and threequarter lengths behind in third. GETTY IMAGES
‘‘I thought it was going to be too hard for him today but I’m super proud of the horse,’’ Young said.
Main Stage, who was ridden by Michael Walker at Flemington on Saturday, would head to the Caulfield Classic (2000m) on October 21 before the Derby two weeks later.
‘‘Today’s only the quarter final, we’ve still got the semi-final and grand final to go yet but this horse keeps improving after every run,’’ Young said.
Main Stage is part-owned by a group from the Richmond Football Club, including Brownlow medal winner Dusty Martin.
Young said Johnny Vinko was also on a path towards the Victoria Derby.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Weather With You finished back in seventh but just five lengths behind the winner.
Less than two hours later, another Busuttin and Youngtrained Kiwi bred showed he could also be a major factor in the Victoria Derby.
Sully was slow away and in a horrible spot with 500m to run but made up a huge amount of ground to finish third behind Ace High and Tangled in the Group I Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick.
‘‘We love chasing those Derbies,’’ Young said.
Meanwhile, the John Wheelertrained Pentathlon, who ran ninth in last year’s Melbourne Cup, ran second to last in the The Bart Cummings.
Winx cruises to victory in the Group I Turnbull Stakes.