Jockey Hugh Bowman believes Chris Waller’s defending champion and 2016 Cox Plate favourite Winx is set for her best season yet as she prepares to return to the track later this month in Sydney.
The six-time Group 1 winning daughter of Street Cry is on track for a big first-up run at Royal Randwick on August 20 in the $250,000 Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m).
In the Warwick Stakes Winx will make her five-year-old debut and shoots for her incredible 10th straight win.
She hasn’t been beaten since a second in the 2015 ATC Oaks behind Gust Of Wind as a three-year-old and all six of her elite level wins have come after that starting with that season’s Queensland Oaks.
Her latest Group 1 win and official race start was during ‘The Championships’ on April 2 when she flew home by two lengths as the odds-on favourite in the Doncaster Mile (1600m).
Winx was fine-tuned ahead of her resuming run at Randwick on July 29 with an 850m open trial where Bowman partnered her for a good fourth behind the Ramornie Handicap winner Smart Volatility.
Bowman is the mighty mare’s regular rider and has been aboard for all but two of her 10 recent wins excluding the Group 3 Sunshine Coast Guineas (Larry Cassidy) in May last year and the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (James McDonald) that September.
The current $6.67 million earner’s most famous win so far came in last year’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) where Winx joined Makybe Diva (2005) and Pinker Pinker (2011) as the only mares to win the race since the great dual champion Sunline (1999-2000).
That was Bowman’s first winning Cox Plate ride and he is full of early confidence of securing a second in as many years, a feat not achieved by a jockey since Greg Childs on Sunline, heading into this year’s edition on October 22.
“Just given she’s a five-year-old mare, this could well be her best season, all going well,” Bowman, 36, told Racing Ahead on RSN Wednesday morning.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s just nice to have her back. It’s early days yet, but all signs are very positive at this stage.”
Winx was the headline Cox Plate nomination taken by Racing Victoria on Tuesday, the weight-for-age classic attracting a total of 175 early entries.
She also is dominant favourite in pre-field Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $2.70 with her closest rival being Kris Lees’ Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Lucia Valentina ($15) who is also down for a Warwick Stakes run first-up this month.
Bowman rode a total of 12 Group 1 winners throughout a stellar 2015-16 season, two of which he scored overseas aboard Werther in Hong Kong.
He is hoping connections eventually give Winx the chance to prove herself on an international level as well, especially given that Aidan O’Brien’s Irish-trained Cox Plate runner-up last year Highland Reel went on to win the Hong Kong Vase next start as well as this July’s Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2012m) at Ascot.
“There’s no doubt I’m confident she’d make her presence felt wherever she went,” Bowman said.
“The world’s becoming a smaller place for these horses.
“The Melbourne Spring Carnival is leading the way in attracting these horses, and has become a world-class event.
“With Highland Reel running second in last year’s Cox Plate, to see what he’s been able to do in Europe since shows that she’s world-class.
“It’d be lovely if she went overseas.
“The thing is the Australian racing prizemoney is so healthy, it’s a big mission to go overseas and you’ve got to sacrifice a lot here.
“I won’t get involved in her program, but I’m sure if she did go overseas, she’d make her presence felt.”
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