Ace Sydney trainer Chris Waller and jockey Hugh Bowman both celebrated their maiden major win in one of the ‘Big 4’ – the Cox Plate 2015 – with outstanding mare Winx demolishing her rivals in a track record time to win Australasia’s weight-for-age championship at Moonee Valley.
The sole mare in a capacity field for the 95th running of the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m), Winx joined Makybe Diva (2005) and Pinker Pinker (2011) as the most recent female gallopers to beat home the boys in the classic.
Drawing comparisons to outstanding New Zealand mare Sunline who secured back-to-back Cox Plate wins in 1999 and 2000, Waller’s four-year-old daughter of Street Cry enjoyed her third elite level success proving her earlier Group 1 victories were no fluke.
Heavily backed to firm into top fancy, Winx was the first Cox Plate winner to salute for the punters since So You Think (1/2) for his second in 2010 five years earlier.
She drew barrier one, which hadn’t produced a champion since Almaarad (1989), but it proved a charmed gate with Bowman taking her to the fence.
As expected Tasmanian galloper The Cleaner went up to lead the Cox Plate field around from the British visitor Arod with another international, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Irish raider Highland Reel box seating beautifully in third.
Winx and Bowman meanwhile were travelling sweetly along the inside up the rails in sixth.
Also on the rails was the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Criterion midfield in his second-up run of the season following the Caulfield Stakes win a fortnight earlier.
With the turn for home approaching, Bowman moved Winx up into fifth and on the straight there was plenty of room on the rails.
A gap opened up early and Bowman had no choice but to take off a decent way from home, with Michael Walker following her up.
Despite taking off earlier than he wanted, Bowman was on a champion mare with an outstanding turn of foot and she got the dream run racing away to storm home in a dominant performance by the $4.60 favourite to put nearly five lengths on Criterion ($6) in the Cox Plate quinella.
“I didn’t want to be going that early, but you have got to take the cards you’re dealt and I was on the premium mare that was able to capitalise on the run I got,” Bowman said post-win.
“She adapted to the awkward position.”
Finishing off the Cox Plate trifecta a further three quarters of a length away in third was the one-time favourite Highland Reel ($8.50) for last year’s winning trainer O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore who stuck on after an on-speed run.
Winx smashed the course record set by Might And Power back in 1998 taking out the 2015 Cox Plate in a very smart 2.02.98, blitzing the high class field to make it five wins on the trot including Group 1 wins in the winter’s Queensland Oaks and the Epsom Handicap in Sydney last start.
“To win a race like this, I can’t tell you how much it means,” an emotional Bowman said.
“I’m so thankful to Chris Waller and the connections of the horse.
“I just can’t believe it to be honest.
“It’s a very humbling feeling. I’m very privileged and very proud.
“I drew barrier one and had a lot of confidence in the mare.
“She’s a Group 1 winning mare and she’s a serious racehorse.”
Waller’s stable rep Justine Hales was full of praise for Winx, Bowman and of course her boss.
“It’s wonderful for Chris and all his hard work,” she said.
“Hugh rode her so well.
“Barrier one was obviously a gift in the end.”
The Cox Plate was Waller’s 54th Group 1 success and he was thrilled after the victory.
“She’s just a superior athlete, she’s amazing,” he said of Winx after saying the best things about her were that “she’s fast and she’s won a Cox Plate!”
The Cox Plate 2016 is the obvious long range target for Winx whose future looked “pretty good” according to Waller.
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2015 Cox Plate Results & Finishing Order
Moonee Valley Race 9 – 24/10/2015
|1||14||WINX||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||–||1||55.5kg||$4.60F|
|2||1||CRITERION (NZ)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||4.75L||7||59kg||$6|
|3||13||HIGHLAND REEL (IRE)||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore||5.5L||4||56kg||$8|
|4||7||PORNICHET (FR)||Gai Waterhouse||Kerrin McEvoy||9L||11||59kg||$61|
|5||4||HARTNELL (GB)||John O’Shea||James McDonald||10.25L||3||59kg||$16|
|6||2||FAWKNER||Robert Hickmott||Damien Oliver||10.45L||14||59kg||$21|
|7||6||THE CLEANER||Mick Burles||Noel Callow||10.55L||2||59kg||$18|
|8||10||GAILO CHOP (FR)||Antoine de Watrigant||Brad Rawiller||12.55L||8||59kg||$21|
|9||12||PREFERMENT (NZ)||Chris Waller||Nash Rawiller||12.65L||9||57.5kg||$14|
|10||3||HAPPY TRAILS||Paul Beshara||Mark Zahra||13.05L||13||59kg||$21|
|11||8||AROD (IRE)||Peter Chapple-Hyam||Craig Williams||13.8L||5||59kg||$8.50|
|12||5||MOURINHO||Peter Gelagotis||Vlad Duric||16.05L||12||59kg||$41|
|13||11||KERMADEC (NZ)||Chris Waller||Glen Boss||20.3L||10||57.5kg||$9|
|14||9||COMPLACENT||John O’Shea||James Doyle||35.3L||6||59kg||$21|