Kiwi Waller’s finest hour
THE glamour girl of Australian racing has galloped her way into equine immortality with her third Cox Plate win, equalling the feat of Kingston Town.
After her world-class performance, her trainer, ex-pat Kiwi Chris Waller, will make all of the senior racing executives around the world wait a little longer before any hard and fast overseas plans are made.
An emotional Waller choked back the tears as he described his happiness at clinching this rarely seen feat with a galloper who has now stretched her winning sequence to 22 races.
Waller and his wife Stephanie struggled to contain their joy when Winx raced her way into racing history in front of 33,000 adoring supporters.
But Chris Waller’s wonder mare was forced to dig deep and almost to the bottom of her reserves to fight off the gallant run of Humidor, who came closer than any other horse in Winx’s three triumphs to defeating her.
Humidor, a former Kiwi runner who ran second behind Willie Cazals in the 2016 Livamol Classic when trained by Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard, looked a serious threat in the final 100 metres but the champion mare lifted and won by half a length in front of a sold-out crowd at Moonee Valley.
Godolphin challenger Folkswood fared best of the rest and finished third ahead of the three-year-old Royal Symphony in the famous A$3 million weight-for-age event.
‘‘Of course, it’s such a relief,’’ Waller said. ‘‘But now I want to get her home and get her right and then look at overseas. I’m really being honest in saying that there’ll be no call on her until perhaps early next year.
‘‘I’m digesting one of the greatest moments of my life, but I’m aware representatives from so many countries, understandably, would love to have her racing on their patch.
‘‘But I can’t say enough. She’s got to be spot on and right in herself before we go anywhere.
‘‘She’s the property of the public now. They love her and I’ll never do anything wrong by her in making plans she can’t fulfil.’’
Victorian racegoers will have to wait another fortnight before the champion mare races at Flemington, but that engagement, according to Waller, is only now a 40 per cent chance of becoming a reality.
‘‘Again, I want to get her home and get her settled and then have a good long look at her,’’ he said.
Waller has ruled out a trip to Japan for the $8 million Japan Cup, again wanting time to look at everything that is available for her.
Japan, Hong Kong, Dubai and clubs throughout Europe will now be bending over backwards to bring Australia’s world-class mare to their shores.
Jockey Hugh Bowman was overjoyed after he rode back.
‘‘I am lost for words,’’ he said. Bowman was caught wide in the early stages before easing Winx to settle fifth in the running line.
Winx began to improve her position from the 900m and had the lead on the turn with Humidor the only horse giving chase.
‘‘She has gone down, she will go down as one of the greatest to grace the Australian turf,’’ Bowman said.
‘‘She would have before today but it has so much meaning to everyone in our industry.’’
For Ballarat trainer Darren Weir, it was nearly a first Cox Plate when his former Kiwi stayer Humidor loomed large and strong with 200 metres to go.
The crowd took collective sighs when jockey Hugh Bowman looked behind to see a horse, for the first time in years, issuing a challenge to Winx’s greatness.
‘‘I thought with 50 metres to go he was going to be right there, but he didn’t quite make it,’’ Weir said. ‘‘But I’ve got to say this, he’s absolutely blind.
‘‘It was a super performance, he’s thriving on racing and it’s off to the Melbourne Cup with a very, very real chance.’’
Weir said Humidor was unlikely to have another start before he tackled the Melbourne Cup.
IT’S hard to imagine there is a more popular horse in Chris Waller’s stable than Winx but Who Shot Thebarman is right up there.
The New Zealand-owned nine-yearold has cemented a place in his fourth Melbourne Cup with victory in the Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) over his stablemate Libran who also heads to Flemington.
‘‘In the stable he’s just as popular as Winx,’’ Waller said. ‘‘What more does that say.
‘‘He means so much to the staff and it shows if you look after them they will perform for you. He will run in in the Melbourne Cup for a fourth time.
The first time he ran third. The second time he was knocked over and almost fell. The third time he ran fifth.
‘‘He ran second in the Sydney Cup only six months ago,’’ Waller said.
Who Shot Thebarman finished second to his stablemate Grand Marshal in last year’s Moonee Valley Cup and his win was his first in almost two years since the 2015 Zipping Classic.
Handicapper Greg Carpenter said he would not give Who Shot Thebarman any increase in weight for the Melbourne Cup in which he has 54kg.
Hugh Bowman salutes the sold-out Moonee Valley crowd following Winx’s third successive Cox Plate victory.