Late show: Winx cuts through field for heartstopping 28th consecutive win
For those watching Winx around the world, there would have been some raised heartbeats and anxious exclamations with three furlongs left in Saturday's Tab Turnbull Stakes, but the man aboard the wondermare, Hugh Bowman, exhibited absolute trust in his equine partner.
Chasing a 28th consecutive victory and 21st win at the highest level, Winx had seemingly too much on her plate as the race approached its climax.
Having travelled round in second-last, Winx still had the majority of the field to pass in the straight, and time was running out. But Bowman was patient, refusing to pull the trigger until he needed to.
And when he asked Winx to go, the response was exactly what he, and a crowd of over 22,000 at Flemington, expected. Winx accelerated down the centre of the track, cutting through her rivals.
She hit the front with around a furlong left, and gobbled up the ground to the line, winning by an ultimately comfortable length.
"Isn't she just amazing," said Bowman as the pair returned to the winner's enclosure. "Usually I just ride her so arrogantly and move her into the race when it pleases me but I didn't have that option today.
"When we settled into our positions the pace was quite steady and when the sprint was the horses that couldn't quicken as well left a few options for me. Still, it was her champion qualities that came through in the end.
"When I peeled in off the back and went in after them I thought we were in for a fight, but the final 100 [metres] it was just extraordinary. That'll do her good as she had to dig deep and it will bring her on nicely for the fourth Cox Plate hopefully."
It will be standing room only at Moonee Valley when Winx does attempt to create history and win a fourth Cox Plate later in the month, and Bowman added: "It's so wonderful for our industry to have a horse like this. I feel so privileged and humble to ride such a magnificent athlete. She's better than good, she's a once in a lifetime horse."
Waller always confident
It may have been a nervous watch for many, but trainer Chris Waller had absolute faith in Bowman and Winx, and said: "The way Hughie rode her was perfect. That's how you ride a racehorse.
"Go to the apprentice school on Monday and show them that and every apprentice will turn out to be a genius if they ride like that.
"Obviously when you are riding Winx, you do need to try not to get held up. But it's Flemington and he got out with 400 metres to run.
"At Moonee Valley you are still looking for runs at that stage and at Caulfield you are still looking for runs at that stage but we are at Flemington.
"In reality, she only made up five lengths in 400 metres."
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