Watch Winx surpass Black Caviar's Group 1 record in stylish comeback
Report: Randwick, Saturday
Chipping Norton Stakes (Group 1) | 1m | turf | 3yo+
A matter of hours after it emerged street racing could take place at the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the country's most iconic racehorse again proved a huge attraction as Winx started her year in style in the TAB Chipping Norton Stakes.
In gaining a third straight win in the race, Australia's winning machine eclipsed Black Caviar's Group 1 record with a 16th top-flight strike, reaffirming the belief of her trainer Chris Waller beforehand that she was better than ever.
Rated the world's best on turf in 2017, Winx extended her sensational winning streak to 23 with consummate ease to stir her trainer's emotions once more.
"To see her come back like this is pretty special," said Waller. "It's a great story and a good way to portray our sport. Her attitude is fantastic and she's a better horse than she was as a four-year-old."
Having been last to leave the gates, Winx was settled in second-last position by Hugh Bowman, whose suspension last month resulted in the mare missing her intended comeback in the Apollo Stakes.
As has become her trademark, Winx started to make her move after being brought widest of all on the turn for home. Travelling powerfully, she made up the ground as if her rivals were standing still and Bowman sat motionless as she stretched clear to win as she liked.
"I got a lovely run close to the rear of the field in a genuinely run race and you couldn't have asked for a better return to racing," said the jockey.
"She's at her most vulnerable over the shorter distances and was running a first-up race but she's been filling me with confidence all preparation.
"Her behaviour in the barriers suggests to me she's a very happy horse as she's not been agitated and edgy and she might have finally matured."
Winx's exploits not enough to earn top spot
Despite capping an unbeaten nine-race campaign last year with a third Cox Plate triumph, Winx had to play second fiddle to Arrogate in the 2017 Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings.
Arrogate, beaten more than 22 lengths on the final three outings of an otherwise glittering career, earned a figure of 134 for his astonishing last-to-first success in the Dubai World Cup.
Winx received her runner-up figure of 132 for winning the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes. With a rating of 130 Cracksman was crowned European champion ending the year in joint-third place with Breeders' Cup Classic Gun Runner.
Her legions of supporters will not have long to wait for another glimpse of her brilliance as she is set to run in the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill in three weeks' time, after which connections are likely to decide if she will embark on a trip to Royal Ascot as part of a European campaign in the summer.
On the next step of an incredible journey, Waller added: "The next week is easy after that it's a bit harder and the last week a bit harder again. We've got a great horse and she's come back so well."
Also on Saturday
Flemington: Australian Guineas (Group 1) 1m turf, 3yo
Mick Price saddled his third Australian Guineas winner as Grunt powered home under Damien Oliver in the A$1 million contest.
Both trainer and jockey celebrated a third victory in the race with Price joining Colin Hayes and Lee Freedman as the most successful Australian Guineas trainers.
He has some lofty long-term ambitions for Grunt such as the Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup, with the Rosehill Guineas on March 24 the next possible target.
"I'm mindful that he's going to be a really good four-year-old," the trainer said. "I don't know if he's got a trip to Sydney in him but the only race I'd go to would be the Rosehill Guineas."
Jockey Regan Bayliss was hit with a 25-meeting suspension for reckless riding in the race. Partnering Main Stage, Bayliss was charged over his actions two furlongs out that resulted in Aloisia being checked and Levendi being knocked off stride.
Under the nine-day deferment rule recently introduced in Victoria, Bayliss will be available to ride Lightning Stakes winner Redkirk Warrior in the Newmarket Handicap at the track next Saturday.
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