The Team Snowden trained Calanda will carry the...
Her undefeated record at the Moonee Valley track speaks for itself and jockey Hugh Bowman agrees, Winx is the horse to beat in the 2017 Cox Plate at the notoriously tight circuit on Saturday.
Eight rivals have agreed to do their best against Chris Waller’s superlative daughter of Street Cry when Winx chases the record-equalling third victory in the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) over the weekend.
In 2015 Winx won her first Cox Plate trophy from barrier 1 against a field of 14, before facing nine rivals for her historic eight length victory last spring from gate three.
Part-owner Peter Tighe selected barrier six of nine for the champion six-year-old at the official Ladbrokes Cox Plate barrier draw on Tuesday morning with gates two, three, four and five already selected by Winx’s turn.
That will hopefully give Bowman the space he needs in the run to allow Winx to wind up and remain traffic free on way to her 22nd consecutive turf triumph.
“The horse is in good order and we’re looking forward to Saturday,” Bowman said at Tuesday’s Breakfast With The Best.
The 14-time Group 1 winner is out to be the first Cox Plate winner from barrier six since Maldivian (2008) and returns to The Valley for the third time.
Bowman knows just how much of an affinity for the track the mighty mare has, but also believes her two Cox Plate triumphs are due to Waller having his stable ace in peak form on Cox Plate Day.
“She does love it here, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“She’s been at her absolute premium every time she’s been here.”
So what does Winx love the track that has been the undoing to plenty of other horses?
Bowman believes it the fact she gets to go through her gears in her own time, the high pressure of the Cox Plate at The Valley ideally suited to this mare.
“She likes to go through her gears when she’s cornering, particularly this way of going,” he explained.
“It’s a bit of a velodrome effect here at Moonee Valley.
“In this particular race, the pressure builds a long way from home and that pressure really suits Winx.
“She likes to be gliding into her top gear over a long period of time.
“It really suits her style of racing.”
Last year Winx came off a Ladbrokes Stakes win over just two rivals before saluting in the Cox Plate results.
This season she answered the critics who said she couldn’t win at Flemington, thrashing her rivals by a minimum six and a half lengths to take out the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Headquarters.
That was her fifth win from six starts over the Cox Plate distance, her only loss at 2000m being a fifth in the 2015 Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill as a three-year-old.
She rounded out that campaign with a second to Gust Of Wind in the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m), but hasn’t been defeated since.
Winx is $1.16 in the latest Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au followed by the Darren Weir-trained Ladbrokes Stakes winner Gailo Chop ($18), his stablemate Humidor ($18) backing-up off a Caulfield Cup fifth last weekend and the three-year-old in the mix Royal Symphony ($18).
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