Winx: 25 not out
VETERAN trainer Gerald Ryan said it three weeks ago after the George Ryder Stakes.
‘‘She’s only just starting to know how good she is,’’ the veteran Rosehill trainer said as the champion six-year-old Winx returned with her 24th consecutive win in the back pocket.
Do horses really know how good they are?
It seems fanciful to the outsider, but horse people know they do. They see horseflesh in a different way to the rest of us. They see the way the horse walks into the mounting yard, gives a cursory glance at the crowd before walking onto the track like they own it.
As Winx strutted around before the A$4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000 metres) yesterday, she barely noticed the thousands of people staring down at her.
Model Jesinta Campbell was only metres away but she was overshadowed by expat-Kiwi trainer Chris Waller’s glamour mare. ‘‘Winx, you’re a sick [expletive]!’’ shouted one young reveller, before taking a swig out of a bottle of champagne.
Then Winx showed us just how good/sick she is, whether she knows it or not.
She won the Queen Elizabeth with such impudent aplomb that it instantly dissolved all these nagging thoughts that her time would soon be up.
After the race, jockey Hugh Bowman stood on his own in the middle of the straight.
‘‘She was all in her stride, she knew she was just here to win,’’ he said.
Does she know how good she is?
‘‘Yep,’’ he said. ‘‘Maybe she hasn’t found something good enough to see just how good she can be.’’
The victory equalled the unbeaten run of 25 of that other mighty mare, Black Caviar, who had her last race at this track almost five years ago to the day.
In the week before the TJ Smith that day, trainer Peter Moody had told me how the pressure of preparing a horse always expected to win was ‘‘killing me’’.
Moody was in the winner’s circle yesterday in his new job of Channel Seven commentator. After Winx’s victory, he walked over to Winx’s part-owner, Peter Tighe, and hugged him.
Only a handful of people in racing are fortunate enough to know success like this.
Tighe is also part-owner of Unforgotten, who won the Australian Oaks (2400m) in the race before the Queen Elizabeth. The Oaks was the first of three group 1s for Waller, who also claimed the Sydney Cup (3200m) with nine-year-old Kiwi-owned Who Shot Thebarman in the race after the Queen Elizabeth. That’s three Group Ones in a row. Some day out.
Greatness can be judged whichever way you want, but Winx has few boxes left to tick: She’s claimed 18 group 1s; she’s amassed almost A$19 million in prizemoney.
But what Winx hasn’t done, and won’t do this year, is win overseas. It might never happen but, honestly, who cares?
Instead, she is now expected to target a fourth Cox Plate.
Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys is desperately trying to convince Waller to run her in the A$13 million The Everest on October 13.
Bowman is adamant Winx could win the 1200m race, even though it’s not her pet distance.
The problem for V’landys is timing. Waller prefers to give Winx three weeks between races and the Cox Plate is a fortnight after The Everest. The Sun-Herald GETTY IMAGES CLASSY Canterbury-trained filly Renezmae got her sophomore season back on track with an impressive win in the slush at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
The daughter of The Pres outtoughed a field of older horses in the hands of catch-driver John Dunn to put herself in good stead for two upcoming feature races.
‘‘She went really good, but I sort of always knew she would be a good chance of winning the race,’’ said trainer Jack Harrington.
‘‘And she’ll improve with the run, which gives us a bit of confidence heading in to the next couple of starts.’’
A likely return bout with New Zealand Trotting Derby and Oaks winner Luby Lou is on the cards for Friday night’s $60,000 Sires’ Stakes Trotters Championship.
Harrington is obviously full of respect for Luby Lou, and her stablemate Winterfell, but takes a lot of heart from Dunn’s feedback.
‘‘Johnny said she felt pretty good going around that way [clockwise], but he also gave us a few things to work on, too.’’ Renezmae missed the Derby at Addington, but finished down the track in the Oaks after being worked over relentlessly in front.
After the Sires’ Stakes and then the $100,000 Northern Trotting Derby a week later, Harrington is considering a return across the Tasman with last season’s Australasian Breeders’ Crown champion.
If not, there is the $30,000 Northern Trotting Oaks in Auckland on May 11 and the $125,000 3YO Jewels Ruby at Cambridge on June 2.
‘‘We’ll just sort of see how she gets through the next two runs; there are options in Australia before the Jewels for us to consider.
‘‘The New South Wales Oaks and Derby are both on in early May and there is the Victorian Oaks.’’
The Victorian Oaks, worth A$60,000, is on at Melton on the same day as the Harness Jewels.
When Renezmae headed off Galleons Victory in a close finish, she also prevented the latter’s trainers, Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis, from training a treble on the night.
They had early won trotting events with Jansson and Magnafique, continuing their excellent start to 2018, which has seen them win 19 races and just over three months.
Tony Herlihy was another to train a double, with Revolver and in-form Italian Delight.
‘ She was all in her stride, she knew she was just here to win.’ RIDER HUGH BOWMAN
Champion mare Winx wins her 25th straight race as jockey Hugh Bowman celebrates yesterday at Randwick.