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Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Winx sets new Group 1 record as Waller hints at imminent Ascot decision

Winx receives the adulation of the crowd after winning the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill
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Report: Australia, Saturday
Rosehill: The Agency George Ryder Stakes (Group 1) 7½f | turf | 3yo+

Winx carved out another piece of racing history as she set a new world record for Group or Grade 1 wins on the Flat with her 17th success at the highest level in the George Ryder.

It was a 24th consecutive victory for the wondermare, who eclipsed American star John Henry's previous record of 16 Grade 1 wins with her latest success. John Henry's mark was set across five seasons in the early 1980s.

Hugh Bowman was aboard Winx at a barrier trial on Monday

The victory will lead to ever louder calls for Winx (Chris Waller/Hugh Bowman) to be campaigned internationally and compete at Royal Ascot this summer, but her trainer was just pleased she preserved her winning streak.

Waller told the Sydney Morning Herald: "It's like you're playing for the All Blacks and you're about to get dropped. It's a sick feeling in your guts every time she goes around."

Such is Winx's versatility that she was able to drop back in trip to claim a third straight George Ryder, although she was made to work for victory by Happy Clapper, who chased her home by three parts of a length.

Waller hinted a decision on whether Winx will make the trip to Royal Ascot in June could be made this week.

“To be fair to the owners we haven’t even discussed Royal Ascot yet,’’ Waller told the Herald Sun.

“Obviously we know when it is and what the races are in Europe but today was very important to see her come back and be fairly dominant.

“It’s on to the Queen Elizabeth in three weeks time, it’s the signature race in Sydney which we were never really going to miss.

“But we’ve got to talk about coming back if she went to Europe to race in her fourth Cox Plate, she can only really go there for one run, possibly two, but we’ve got to put all the cards on the table.

“We will let you all know – her career has never been hidden and we do respect everyone that follows her here and on the other side of the world.”

On the pressure that comes with trying to maintain Winx's streak, Waller added: "The intensity is just unexplainable. I don’t know why, or if it is just me. You enjoy the after part of the race, crossing the line. 

"You are just thinking of her all the time. Not for everything else, but to make sure the horse is alright."

That pressure is not just felt by Waller, as part-owner Peter Tighe explained.

He said: "It's much more of a relief now. The old adage is with every win you get closer to a loss. And you feel that. She was great again today, but it just gets harder." 

The pressure cooker for connections will now be turned back on for Winx's next intended outing, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on April 14, where she will attempt to match Black Caviar's record of 25 consecutive wins.

Hugh Bowman hugs wife Christine after he partnered Winx to victory in the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill

Someone else who was probably sweating through Winx's George Ryder success was the punter who staked A$114,000 (£62,397) to win A$11,400 (£6,239).

It was the biggest bet Australian firm TAB have taken on Winx through her career, though she shows no signs of feeling the weight of expectations from various quarters.

Full race result


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The old adage is with every win you get closer to a loss. And you feel that. She was great again today, but it just gets harder

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