Wondermare Winx breezes to record-breaking 26th consecutive success
Expect the unexpected in horseracing, but when Winx is concerned, you can make a rare exception.
The darling of Australian racing seized Black Caviar’s record for consecutive wins on Saturday by extending her unbeaten run to 26 races, recording a third successive triumph in what is now the Winx Stakes, a contest renamed from the Warwick Stakes in honour of the wondermare, to spark wild scenes among the Randwick crowd.
There were cheers for Winx, who retained her position as the world’s best racehorse in the latest Longines rankings last week, when she entered the paddock. Rapturous applause greeted her return to the winner’s enclosure.
Victory in the seven-furlong Group 1 race did not appear a foregone conclusion at halfway, with Winx in mid-division and with significant ground to make up, but, in her customary fashion, the seven-year-old powered home on the outside to defeat outsider Invictus Prince by two lengths under regular rider Hugh Bowman.
Winx and Umut doing the form this morning ensuring they don’t underestimate their opposition. See you at Randwick. pic.twitter.com/VZl9uqcKQa— Chris Waller Racing (@cwallerracing) August 17, 2018
Bowman said: “It's a while since she's run over this distance and it's not as comfortable riding her as it's a bit short of her best trip. She was struggling at the pace over this distance but when she balanced up and saw the winning post she took off.
“She's just incredible. There are lots of parents with their children here and that's what I love the most – all generations are coming here to see a horse of a calibre that we may never see again.
“These horses come along only once in a lifetime and she's such a special athlete. I'm so proud of her.”
'I've seen improvement and that's staggering'
All eyes were on Winx as she tracked her perceived main danger Kementari for most of the race, and as the pacesetters started to come back to the principals it was the star mare who hit top gear to win with plenty in hand, taking her prize-money earnings to beyond A$19 million (£10.9m/€12.1m).
Winx was shortened to 2-5 (from 1-2) by Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook to record a remarkable fourth Cox Plate win at Moonee Valley on October 27.
Trainer Chris Waller, wiping away tears of joy and pride, said: “I've been looking for signs of her losing her dominance since her last win. She hasn't lost one ounce of it. If anything, I've seen improvement and that's quite staggering.
“This is not about me – it's about the amazing Winx. What she's done for the sport in Australia is incredible.
“We're lucky in life to look up to greats, be it a horse or general everyday heroes, who I respect. She's one of those.”
Once in a lifetime
Just what must it be like to own the best horse in the world? Peter Tighe of Magic Bloodstock Racing, co-owner of Winx with Richard Treweeke and Debbie Kepitis, described the unique feeling.
Tighe said: “I'd go anywhere for a horse race but when you own a horse like her it's like we're standing in a different place looking at someone else's horse.
“The benchmark was set by Black Caviar and now she's set her own. The challenge is now for someone else to come along and emulate what she's done.”
Winx's record-breaking achievements will be celebrated with her image on a A$1 postage stamp available from next week, and Tighe emphasised the important part the public plays.
He added on Sky Racing: “The support she gets is incredible – it's a privilege to own this horse on behalf of all the public.
"It's a funny thing to say but that's how it feels to us. We want everyone to enjoy this as we do.”
Coincidentally, this 19th Group 1 success for Winx came on the foal date of Black Caviar, who was born exactly 12 years earlier. She retired in 2013 with a then Australian record of 15 top-flight victories.
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