Happy 21st to Winx

Sunday News - - RACING - AAP

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.

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