HOW lucky we are to be living in a time of some of the greatest sporting legends and to be able to witness their achievements, writes CHARL PRETORIUS.

Sporting fans last weekend enjoyed a visual feast of mammoth proportions. Winx said good bye to the racing world with her 24th Gr1 win, Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix without much apparent fuss and the awesome Tiger Woods won the 2019 US Masters.

There are many who believe that Woods is not only the best golfer of all time, but the best sportsman ever to grace planet earth. His monumental comeback after serious injury must rate right up there with some of the finest sporting feats ever.

Fans of Jack Nicklaus may disagree, older individuals will make a case for legends like Roger Federer, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Donald Bradman and Muhammed Ali. And there will be Americans who come up with baseball heroes like Babe Ruth or Joe DiMaggio.

But if you’re just a fan of the sport of golf, does it really matter whether Tiger is the greatest? How will we ever be able to prove conclusively that he is, or disprove it?

What does actually matter, in the words of CBS commentator Jim Nantz, is that “Tiger inspired a generation of young golfers in the 1990s and again in the early 2000s. Now he is doing it yet again!” The ‘Tiger Roar’ going into the last few holes at Augusta on Sunday was as good for the game of golf as anything had ever been!

Similarly, for racing, it is wholly irrelevant whether the Australian wonder mare Winx is considered the best ever, or one of the best, or even “just another racehorse” by some nasties on social media that claim she is not in the same class as a Cracksman, or an Enable, let alone a Frankel.

There are self-proclaimed experts on Twitter who are going out of their way to belittle Winx and her glittering career, and most of them happen to reside in the UK or the USA. They do not realise how pathetic and simple-minded they really are. What is it they wish to accomplish by starting arguments they cannot win? If the mentioned runners, all at their very best, and over a distance agreed to suit them all best, were ever to run against each other on a neutral racetrack, we’d be able to make a near correct call. No scientific method, comparison of times or supposed quality of races won, will ever settle the debate with a definitive answer. It is just not possible and will never be!

For the record, Winx comes from a racing jurisdiction that doesn’t have to step back an inch for the US or the UK. Australia is a racing and breeding powerhouse, despite the recent scandals in their industry.

Winx won 24 Gr1’s, beating 230 horses at top level, the subsequent winners of 1,235 races and the winners of 81 Gr1 races. She’s the highest earning racehorse of all time, a record-breaker of proportions, a world star and a tear-jerker of note.

“Remember how you feel right now, remember it!” requested race caller Darren Flindell just after Winx had won Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes in front of 42,000 spectators. Outside the track, in Sydney’s Alison Road, people who couldn’t get into the racetrack stood ten-deep along the pallisade fence. Flags waved everywhere, cheers went up, and a mighty roar occurred when the mighty mare returned.

So how did you feel? Can you recall? Not just a feeling of mild appreciation for a sports star, right? If you’re human, you would’ve wiped a way a tear for Winx, swallowed a lump for her, and for Tiger on Sunday. Winx, like Woods, has rekindled the possibly waning interest of a current generation of fans. She has left an indelible mark on a new generation of racing supporters, and she will inspire a host of new buyers around the world to invest in thoroughbred racing in search of something even remotely as talented as she was.

When sporting stars bring one to tears, they leave deep marks that are never erased. Those rare, highly-charged moments also bring respect, love and admiration, and those last forever. Who cares whether one is better than the other? Does it really matter?

Winx and Woods: We hail thee, aliens, for good times and for posterity!



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