Winx breaks the hearts of her rivals, moves grown men to tears and makes racing sport’s feel-good story.
Racing’s winning machine is now a seven-year-old but age, like her rivals, isn’t catching up with the champion as she proved with her runaway win in the race named in her honour, the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) before 11,793 race fans at Royal Randwick.
Sydney’s super mare claimed the national record for consecutive wins, put another would-be challenger in their place, and again showed why she is the world’s best racehorse when she won the race named in her honour, the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick.
Owner Peter Tighe, usually so measured and calm, became quite emotional after watching Winx’s unprecedented 26th win in succession, breaking the record she had previously shared with another legendary mare, Black Caviar.
“The world stopped for me on the turn, my heart stopped,’’ Tighe said.
“You doubt her a little bit and then she does that! I haven’t felt like this before, I’m lost for words but it’s a relief, the record is there — she is back!”
Another of Winx’s part-owners, Debbie Kepitis, praised trainer Chris Waller for his management of Winx.
“What a feat to keep this mare going for as long as he does,’’ she said. “Chris is a genius and I love him dearly.’’
Waller was also in tears, his voice cracking as he tried to put Winx’s comeback win into some perspective.
“It’s not about me, it’s about that amazing animal,’’ Waller said.
“I’ve been looking for signs she is losing her dominance but I haven’t seen one ‘ounce’ of it. If anything I’ve seen improvement. It is quite staggering.
“What she is doing for sport in Australia — we should all take a bow and say well done.’’
There were a few nervous moments as the field made the final turn as Winx, just for a stride or two, appeared to be under pressure and standing the leaders a big start.
But then Winx ($1.24 favourite) unleashed her now famous finishing sprint, completely overwhelming her rivals to race clear 100m out and score easing down by two lengths. English import Invictus Prince ($151) ran a blinder for second, with D’Argento ($17) a length away third.
Kementari ($6), the Godolphin four-year-old many thought could challenge Winx’s superiority, was alongside the great mare on the turn but couldn’t match motors with her and ran fourth.
Winx’s 26th successive win improved her overall record to 30 wins from 36 starts. It seems every race she contests these days, she rewrites racing history. The records tumbled again on Saturday including:
SHE has now won a world record 19 Group 1 races.
HER career earnings has exceeded $19.25 million — a southern hemisphere record.
HER 26 consecutive wins is a national record and trails only Puerto Rico’s Camarero with 56 successive wins and unbeaten Hungarian mare Kincesm (54 wins).
SHE is the first mare to win the Winx (formerly Warwick Stakes) three times after her 2016-17 wins.
The only other three-peat winners of this race are Kingston Town (1980-81-82) and Limerick (1927-28-29).
Hugh Bowman, Winx’s regular rider, also felt the mare was in trouble on the home turn but he need not have worried.
“When she balanced up and saw the winning post, what can I say, she is incredible,’’ Bowman said.
Waller is in awe of Winx’s ability to continually defy all challengers.
“The pressure came into the race and Winx and Kementari loomed large,’’ Waller said.
“But what she does to horses is simply break their hearts. She can maintain it and some other very good horses can’t.”
Channel 7 commentator Bruce McAvaney pointed out afterwards that remarkably Winx had become just the first seven-year-old mare to win a Group 1 since triple Melbourne Cup-winning marvel Makybe Diva in 2005.
Punters who kept the faith with Winx collected again with TAB Fixed Odds taking some huge bets on the great mare including $140,000 at $1.12, $60,000 at $1.20, $50,000 at $1.20 and a $120,000 place bet at $1.04.
Winx firmed into $1.40 favouritism to claim her an unprecedented fourth successive Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.
Waller indicated that Winx would be restricted to three lead-up races into the Cox Plate meaning she is likely to miss the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick in two weeks.
“I think we will wait a month and go to the George Main Stakes,’’ Waller said. “We will then work out her final lead-up run into the Cox Plate.’’ - Ray Thomas, The Daily Telegraph