Veteran hoop Jim Byrne will chase a fourth...
Sydney-based Chris Waller has not ruled out a history-making fourth shot at the Ladbrokes Cox Plate in 2018 for his glamour mare Winx.
Royal Ascot in England is calling for the country’s highest ever earning racehorse, but Waller said a final call on the international bid would not be made until after the Group 1 $1 million George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 24.
Street Cry six-year-old Winx made her first public appearance on Monday since joining the great Kingston Town (1980-82) with a trio of Cox Plate victories last October.
She trialled in a 900m heat at Rosehill and had an easy time with her regular rider Hugh Bowman guiding her to a sixth, two lengths off the winner – Golden Rose champ Trapeze Artist.
“She was very relaxed,” Waller told Racing Victoria post-trial on Monday.
“To me, reading a horse’s body language, it tells me that she’s very happy.”
Winx is set to run first-up this autumn looking for a third straight win in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on February 17.
There the 15-time Group 1 hero will look to extend her winning streak to 23 consecutive turf triumphs, the mare’s last loss being her second to Gust Of Wind in the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) as a three-year-old back in April of 2015.
The Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival agenda for Winx will also include title defences in the George Ryder Stakes, which she won by over seven lengths on a Heavy (10) track last season, and the Group 1 $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on April 14 during ‘The Championships’.
Before the incredible $15.6 million earner lines-up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes field however, punters will already know whether she is England-bound for the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) in June or staying put down under ahead of the spring.
“The Ascot picture is simply to satisfy a lot of people that want to, on the other side of the world, see her perform,” Waller said.
“One thing we must respect is how hard it is to travel a horse and the horse has to come back, so do you want her to go to Ascot and perform at her best or do you want her come home and perform in her fourth Cox plate or fourth spring carnival?
“Both things would be difficult and we’ll never push her beyond where she can’t go, so she’ll be the best guide.
“Obviously we’ve given it plenty of thought but as I keep saying, it will be after her third run into the preparation, which we think will be the George Ryder, that’s where we’ll be making a decision on her future racing, whether that be Australia, whether that be England but again the horse comes first.”
Winx is in line for the World’s Best Racehorse award, announced in the UK this week, and is still racing as good as ever according to Waller.
“One thing I do know is that every challenge we’ve given to, she’s risen to,” the master trainer said.
“Whether it be short distances, firm tracks, really wet tracks, being a long way back in her races, at this stage every challenge seems possible.
“So maybe there’s a little bit of improvement and maybe that bar hasn’t quite been reached.”
The Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) runs at Moonee Valley on October 27.
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