ELEC­TRIC WINX

The magic mare ig­nited 38,035 race­go­ers on her way to a fourth Cox Plate. Jockey Hugh Bowman said it was a feel­ing he will re­mem­ber for­ever. “The re­ac­tion was elec­tric.”

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - GLENN McFAR­LANE

AN emo­tional Chris Waller couldn’t hold back his tears at the mag­ni­tude of his won­der horse Winx’s achieve­ments. A quar­tet of Cox Plate vic­to­ries sank in late yes­ter­day, leav­ing the door ajar for more record-break­ing hero­ics next year.

In front of a crowd of more than 38,000 at The Val­ley, where a sea of blue and white swept over the stands and lawns, Winx stormed to her 29th con­sec­u­tive vic­tory (an Aus­tralian record) and her 22nd Group 1 suc­cess (a world record) with con­sum­mate ease.

In do­ing so, she also be­came the first Aus­tralian gal­loper to smash through the $20 mil­lion prize­money bar­rier, tak­ing her tally to $22,934,924.

Waller, who watched the race on his own in the scales room, fi­nally let his guard down when Winx ($1.20) was on her way back to the win­ner’s en­clo­sure, hav­ing thrashed in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor Ben­batl ($10) by two lengths, with Hu­mi­dor ($21) in third place.

The trainer looked up at the crowd in silent awe, took out his mo­bile phone and snapped a panoramic im­age of his horse’s ador­ing fans in the grand­stand.

“That’s what is get­ting me emo­tional, just talk­ing about it,” he said, with his voice quak­ing, of the ado­ra­tion cen­tred on his cham­pion mare.

“I don’t re­ally get the chance to re­flect on how im­por­tant she is to ev­ery­one — you hear it, (but) you don’t see it.

“I will prob­a­bly take that with me for the rest of my life.”

Waller in­sisted there would be no im­me­di­ate an­nounce­ment on Winx’s fu­ture, with the trainer to sit down with part-own­ers Peter Tighe, Deb­bie Kepi­tis and Richard Tre­weeke, along with jockey Hugh Bowman, in the com­ing weeks.

“If the horse is well, the jockey is happy and the owner are happy to edge to­wards an­other run, whether it be the Turn­bull, the Cox Plate or an­other race in

the au­tumn, we’ll march on.” Waller said.

Asked where his seven-year-old mare sat in the pan­theon of rac­ing cham­pi­ons, Waller said: “You just can’t up­set peo­ple by say­ing that (she is the best), but she is the great­est I will have any­thing to do with.”

“We get so much feed­back from peo­ple all around the world who have been touched by Winx, and if some of them are non-rac­ing peo­ple, it is go­ing to be very good for the game.”

Jockey Hugh Bowman said he was proud of his horse.

“I can’t be­lieve it,” Bowman said. “The build-up of elec­tric­ity that came through my body when I turned into the straight, I can’t de­scribe.

“Ev­ery­one watch­ing gets so much plea­sure out of this won­der­ful horse. “The fact she has been able to do it so many times. I can’t say much more. “I’m so proud to be a part of this and so lucky to come across such an amaz­ing ath­lete. “She’s ap­ples.” Yes­ter­day, pun­ters placed the largest amount that the TAB had ever held on Winx in her 29 wins, with $3,104,517 taken on the mare. In Winx’s first Cox Plate, the TAB held $724,101.

Al­most 90 years ago, when rac­ing leg­end Phar Lap was at his peak, writer Banjo Pater­son said: “You younger peo- ple that saw Phar Lap race here will be able to say when you get old: ‘Ah, don’t talk to me about race­horses. You ought to have seen Phar Lap’.”

In time, the kids decked out in their Winx caps yes­ter­day, and the par­ents hold­ing them above their heads in an ef­fort to see her come back to scale, will likely be say­ing the same thing about the mighty mare.

Pic­tures: JAY TOWN, GETTY IMAGES, SDP ME­DIA, AAP

Hugh Bowman and Winx cel­e­brate their vic­tory; Bowman kisses the tro­phy, be­low; trainer Chris Waller em­braces Bowman af­ter the race, right;

Hugh Bowman and wife Chris­tine em­brace as Winx coowner Patty Tighe joins the cel­e­bra­tion. Winx fan Adam Hud­son dressed as Hugh Bowman. Winx co-own­ers Peter Tighe and Deb­bie Kepi­tis with the four Cox Plates.

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