Cox Plate Winner Winx to Get Serious in Melbourne

Jockey Hugh Bowman said he isn’t feeling too much pressure ahead of his ride on Winx this weekend in Sydney.

Hugh Bowman

Hugh Bowman partners Australia’s best racehorse Winx again this Saturday in the 2016 Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick. Photo: Sarah Ebbett.

Things would change however once the defending Cox Plate champion returned to Melbourne Bowman added.

Bowman has been aboard Chris Waller’s glamour mare for all but two of her 10 straight wins leading up to the $250,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

While many of the headlines around the weight-for-age clash are on Winx making it 11 on the trot, Bowman isn’t concerned about the winning streak.

His main focus was keeping the five-year-old at her best ahead of a lengthy spring.

“To be honest, I don’t get too wrapped up in the winning streak,” Bowman told Racing Victoria.

“That might change when we get to the Cox Plate, but there doesn’t feel a lot of pressure going into the weekend.

“At this stage of the preparation, it’s just nice to see her get out and perform at a level we know she can.

“I’m sure when she gets to Melbourne after the George Main Stakes [on September 17]; things will start to get a bit more serious for her – not that that means we don’t care about this weekend, but you’d think she’s got it at her mercy.”

A six-time elite level winner, Winx has a couple more runs at home on the agenda before moving south for a shot at back-to-back victories in the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.

Waller also hopes to keep the daughter of Street Cry going right through until the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

There at Flemington Racecourse she may target the new look $2 million Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m) on November 5.

First-up the $6.8 million earner did it easy, saluting as the $1.28 favourite by three and a half lengths in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m).

On Saturday she returns to Randwick for the 11th time, a track she has plenty of form over (10-6-3-0), and is back up over a mile which she also has an outstanding record over (5-4-1-0).

She is shorter in Chelmsford Stakes betting at than she has ever been before currently paying $1.14.

The only two runners considered any kind of chance of scoring the boilover Chelmsford Stakes upset are James Cummings’ three-year-old colt Prized Icon ($7.50) and the John O’Shea-trained Warwick Stakes runner-up Hartnell ($11).

Bowman though doesn’t believe that over the 1600m any of Winx’s seven rivals are a genuine winning hope.

“Most of our opposition – while they’re Group 1 horses – are going to be better over further,” he said.

“Prized Icon, who’s only a three-year-old, he won the Champagne Stakes, but you wouldn’t think he’s at her level.

“Without sounding too arrogant, I don’t really think any of them are [a threat].”

Bowman rode Prized Icon first-up on 61kg for the youngster’s fourth to Divine Prophet in the Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes (1300m) on August 20 and tipped him to lead the Chelmsford Stakes field around on Saturday.

“Prized Icon I would imagine would probably lead, he’s a free-rolling type,” he said.

“I rode him first-up in the Up And Coming Stakes, and I was pleased with his run. He’ll be much more suited at 1600m.”

Bowman also paid respects to Group 1 winning six-year-old Hartnell who has James McDonald aboard from barrier two on Saturday.

“I have a huge respect for Hartnell,” he said.

“If you go back to autumn in 2015, he was the real headline act and was favourite for the Cox Plate after that campaign – and there’s no shortage of class with him.

“His sectional times first-up in the Warwick Stakes were almost as good as Winx’s, so it’d be no surprise to see him run very well again, but I think at this trip, she’ll have the wood on them.”

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