Wondermare Winx returns to work but no decision yet on European campaign
Winx has taken the first steps on what could be her road to Europe and Royal Ascot by returning to work with trainer Chris Waller.
The mare, who made history in October by becoming only the second horse to win three consecutive Cox Plates, was sent for a break following that Moonee Valley success but is now back in training with the Australian autumn approaching.
Waller is yet to make a final decision on whether Winx will embark on a European campaign in 2018 or, indeed, on the shape of her Australian autumn programme that would come before that.
The prospects of an overseas trip appeared to recede recently when co-owner Peter Tighe said in a radio interview he would be tempted to target an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate.
"She's back in the stable but I'm not sure yet where she will start off," Waller said. "And there is no decision yet whether she goes overseas."
Winx, whose remarkable winning sequence now stands at 22, has kicked off her last two autumn campaigns with the Group 2 Apollo Stakes followed by the Group 2 Chipping Norton Stakes and George Ryder Stakes.
Six-week ban for Sadler
Caulfield trainer John Sadler has been suspended for six weeks after pleading guilty to an improper conduct charge.
The racing appeals and disciplinary board heard on Monday that Sadler had recently lost his love of racing after being charged by Racing Victoria stewards over his conduct before and after Observational was scratched from the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on November 18.
Sadler claimed he had been dragged into the ongoing Lovani case as stewards continue investigations into an alleged raceday treatment of the Robert Smerdon-trained mare.
Sadler and Smerdon are among the trainers who operate under the Aquanita Racing banner. Aquanita provides management and administration services but the trainers remain independent and responsible for their own stables.
Stewards alleged Sadler made comments to chief steward Terry Bailey in telephone calls on the morning of the race and in person, again towards Bailey and deputy chief steward Robert Cram, at Sandown that day.
Observational was scratched following an elevated TC02 reading in an out-of-competition test the previous day, raising stewards' concerns the horse had been treated within one clear day of the race, which Sadler denied.
The RAD board suspended Sadler from December 25 until February 5. Stewards are continuing their investigations into the circumstance that led to Observational's scratching.
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