Boost for Newbury as Lockinge could be stage for Winx European debut
Australian superstar Winx could kick off her European tour at Newbury next year after the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes was identified as the best route to her Royal Ascot target.
Through a collaborative effort, leading racecourses in Britain, Ireland and France presented her trainer Chris Waller with a 'road map' outlining all the options available to Winx in 2018 leading up to and after the royal meeting.
And in the clearest sign yet that the wondermare, winner of her last 22 starts, will be campaigned in Europe next year, Waller has signalled it is the Newbury Group 1 which most appeals as a warm-up because it is run over a straight mile.
Winx has been put away for the season after rounding off another unbeaten campaign in Australia with a historic third victory in the Cox Plate, but Ascot's director of racing Nick Smith has kept regular contact with Waller.
"We put together a road map, working with France Galop and Horse Racing Ireland and all the tracks in the UK, to take to Chris which outline how Winx could get to Royal Ascot and go on from there.
"The two options we outlined were the Prix d'Ispahan into the Prince of Wales's Stakes or the Lockinge Stakes into the Queen Anne. The bottom line is if they come, and they decide to have a prep race, the Lockinge is of significant interest as it is run on a straight track which would give her experience before Royal Ascot.
"Chris Waller was particularly interested in that. He was also interested in races like the Falmouth Stakes and the Nassau afterwards, if they decide to have a fillies programme, or if they want to be more ambitious they could go for the Juddmonte International."
Waller is well aware of the clamour to see Winx race in Europe describing the possibility of a match-up with European star Enable as "a promoter's dream".
For that to become a reality Enable would have to drop down from the 1m4f distance over which she has won the Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George and Arc, which would not be out of the question were Winx to tackle races like the Nassau or Juddmonte International.
Smith added: "They are very positive. If the horse is going well at the right time in March next year then there is a very good chance we will see her in Europe.
"We agreed a few months ago that in order to make it easy for Chris that the best approach was to put together one letter with all our logos and programmes together so they could go through one channel.
"Everyone has worked together to make life as easy as possible for them and the net result of that now is that they know all the options. Right now it seems the Queen Anne is almost certainly the race they are going to target."
Winx may not be the only Australian star racing at Royal Ascot next year with connections of Redzel, the inaugural winner of world's richest turf race - the Everest - who followed up in the Darley Classic on Saturday, showing an interest.
"They are keen too on the Diamond Jubilee and there are one or two others as well. He is a very good sprinter who would clearly be hard to beat," said Smith.