WINX is in ‘picture perfect’ order for her bid to win the race named after her, Saturday’s Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Randwick, according to trainer Chris Waller. She galloped at the break of dawn at Rosehill, Thursday.
In encouraging news for her fans and those willing to see the world’s best racehorse extend her winning run to 26 races – including the punter who has placed $140,000 on her to do so at $1.12 with the TAB – Waller can’t find fault with his now seven-year-old days out from her anticipated racing return in the Winx, re-named from the Warwick Stakes and upgraded to G1 status from a Group 2.
Much has been made of the entry of Godolphin galloper Kementari, who was able to get within 1.6 lengths of the champion in this year’s G1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m), but Waller has his eye on a horse closer to home putting in a strong performance too, Rosehill Guineas winner D’Argento.
“I respect it as a horse race. There’s some up and comers in there, not just Kementari, even D’Argento from our own stable, is a big improver,” Waller said at the now regular pre-race Thursday press conference ahead of a Winx race.
“There’s 11 horses in the race, luck in running, you name it, it’s a sport, and they just need things to go their way.
“What Winx has had in her past 25 runs is a bit of authority with her ability.
“We don’t think she’s dropped back at all, so I think it’ll take a very good one to beat her.”
Waller said a factor that always is an unknown going into a race with the champ is tactics.
“My only doubt is if the field breaks up, or the pace drops off, which we saw last year when she was resuming,” Waller recounted, of last year’s Warwick Stakes.
“But the best thing about Winx is she performs under high pressure, and she can sustain it for a lot longer. I think 1400m, first-up, is the perfect distance.
He added: “I’d say we’ve concentrated a little bit harder on a Group 1 race than we would a normal Group 2 race. It’s a slight step-up and you’ve got to be ready for all the challenges.
“It’s a pretty good field, I wouldn’t say there’s specialist Group 1 1400-metre horses in the race, but at the same time we’ll give them the respect they deserve, and make sure first and foremost our horse is ready to win.”
Hugh Bowman, the man who has ridden Winx to 24 racetrack victories, said while the seven furlongs is set to be her most vulnerable trip, she’s got conditions to suit around her.
Bowman also echoed Waller’s thoughts regarding D’Argento being primed to run well this weekend.
“Obviously this is short of her best distance – 1400m is probably her most vulnerable distance, or will be this preparation,” Bowman said.
“The reason for that is she likes to go through her gears in time, and the 1400m is a bit more of a sprint distance. So she doesn’t have time to settle in the early stages, and build and build and build like she does in the races over further.
“A little bit more tactical for us, but she’s drawn beautifully in barrier five, it’s an ideal draw for her. There’s some nice horses drawn around me which I may be able to follow into the race if I’m back in the field, or if I’m forward in the field, they can follow me. We’ll see what happens.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for some of the rivals in this weekend’s race, Kementari being the main one, but I think D’Argento will run an extremely big race this weekend, he’s another exciting horse to look forward to, as is Unforgotten.
“She might find it a bit sharp, a bit short against the horses she’s racing, but I expect her to be racing well too.”
Winx is aiming to break the Australian record of 25 consecutive wins she currently shares with Black Caviar, with Saturday’s race coinciding with the foal date of the latter, born 12 years ago.