Wonderful Winx bids to win race renamed in her honour and extend streak to 26
Winx Stakes (Group 1) | 3yo+ | 7f turf | ATR
Winx is in 'picture perfect' order for her bid to win the race named after her, according to trainer Chris Waller.
In encouraging news for her fans and those willing to see the world's best racehorse extend her winning run to 26 races – including the punter who has placed $140,000 on her to do so at $1.12 with the TAB – Waller can't find fault with his now seven-year-old before her anticipated racing return in the race renamed from the Warwick Stakes and upgraded to Group 1 from Group 2 status.
Much has been made of the entry of Godolphin galloper Kementari, but Waller has his eye on a horse closer to home putting in a strong performance too – Rosehill Guineas winner D'Argento.
"There's some up-and-comers in there, not just Kementari, even D'Argento from our own stable, is a big improver," Waller said at the now regular pre-race Thursday press conference ahead of a Winx race.
"There are 11 horses in the race – luck in running, you name it, it's a sport, and they just need things to go their way.
"What Winx has had in her past 25 runs is a bit of authority with her ability. We don't think she's dropped back at all, so I think it'll take a very good one to beat her."
Waller said a factor that always is an unknown going into a race with the champ is tactics.
"My only doubt is if the field breaks up, or the pace drops off, which we saw last year when she was resuming," Waller recounted, of last year's Warwick Stakes.
"But the best thing about Winx is she performs under high pressure, and she can sustain it for a lot longer. I think 1,400 metres, first-up, is the perfect distance.
He added: "I'd say we've concentrated a little bit harder on a Group 1 race than we would a normal Group 2 race. It's a slight step-up and you've got to be ready for all the challenges.
"It's a pretty good field. I wouldn't say there's specialist Group 1 1,400-metre horses in the race, but at the same time we'll give them the respect they deserve and make sure first and foremost our horse is ready to win."
Hugh Bowman, the man who has ridden Winx to 24 victories, said that while the seven furlongs is set to be her most vulnerable trip, she has got conditions to suit. And he echoed Waller's thoughts regarding D'Argento being primed to run well this weekend.
"Obviously this is short of her best distance – 1,400 metres is probably her most vulnerable trip, or will be this preparation," Bowman said.
"The reason for that is she likes to go through her gears in time, and the 1,400 metres is a bit more of a sprint distance. So she doesn't have time to settle in the early stages, and build and build and build like she does in the races over further.
"It's a little bit more tactical for us, but she's drawn beautifully in barrier five. There are some nice horses drawn around me who I may be able to follow into the race if I'm back in the field, or if I'm forward in the field, they can follow me.
"I've got a lot of respect for some of the rivals, Kementari being the main one, but I think D'Argento will run an extremely big race – he's another exciting horse to look forward to, as is Unforgotten."
Kementari got to within a length and a half of Winx in the George Ryder in March when third, and trainer James Cummings is hoping Godolphin's runner can show well.
He told the Godolphin website: "We definitely have great respect for Winx, but there’s a bunch of nice horses, it’s not only her we have to beat.
"He came through his first-up run in great order and in the end he was just training so well. His work on Tuesday morning was the best of any of ours, so we’ve got no hesitation running."
For complete coverage of racing and bloodstock in Australia and New Zealand, download ANZ Bloodstock News every day