Winx drawn in stall six against eight rivals in Cox Plate hat-trick bid
Winx will face eight rivals in Saturday's Ladbrokes Cox Plate at Moonee Valley as she attempts to win the race for the third year on the trot and become the highest earner in Australian racing history.
All eyes were on Winx early on Tuesday morning as Moonee Valley played host to Breakfast With The Best. The wondermare was put through a fairly intense workout by regular rider Hugh Bowman as the finishing touches were put to her Cox Plate preparation in front of a couple of hundred early risers.
"It was exactly what we wanted to see from her," trainer Chris Waller said afterwards. "Most of her work has been done, of course, and we are into grand final week. I just wanted to make sure the team is happy and everything is going to plan.
"I couldn’t be any happier, my jockey Hugh Bowman has exactly the same feeling, and everyone is very happy with the way her preparation has gone."
Bowman says he is taking nothing for granted despite the fact that Winx is set to be the shortest priced favourite in the Cox Plate since Phar Lap in 1931, but admitted that he is keen to stay clear of any traffic jams.
Bowman said: "She is so good on her feet and likes to go through her gears on the cambered bends. In a Cox Plate, the pressure builds a long way from home and that suits her style of racing.
"I am not going to fall into the trap of being too confident. I have a healthy respect for her rivals. But I’m on a supreme athlete and the reality is I just need to stay out of trouble and give her clear galloping room so she can get her chance."
Cranbourne Cup winner Folkswood, from the Charlie Appleby stable, is regarded as the biggest danger to Winx according to the market but Kerrin McEvoy believes he will need a career-best to get anywhere near the defending champion.
"We are up against it. Winx is a champion and we have to try to rise to her level. He has travelled out here well and he felt good when he won the Cranbourne Cup. We need to concentrate on the fact that this is a champion's race but it's a horse race too and anything can happen. He will have to run a personal best to get anywhere near Winx," McEvoy said.
The Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained Kaspersky, rated 113, will also tackle Winx but needs to step up considerably on a poor start to the Spring Carnival when trailing in 16th behind Tosen Stardom at Caulfield.
Williams on Fire
Hugo Palmer has snapped up Craig Williams for leading Emirates Melbourne Cup fancy Wall Of Fire.
Palmer tweeted: "Delighted to conform that Wall Of Fire will be ridden by Craig Williams in the Melbourne Cup after the pair cantered together today."
The four-year-old caught the eye when staying on into second behind Lord Fandango in the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield last Saturday week, form that was franked in the Caulfield Cup as the fourth home, Boom Time, ran out an emphatic winner.
There was also a scare for Palmer at Werribee on Tuesday morning as Mask Of Time pulled up quickly during a routine piece of work alongside Wall Of Fire.
It was initially thought that he had broken down but it appears little more than a soft-tissue issue around the knee and he remains on course for a crack at the Kennedy Mile.
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