A capacity field of Stradbroke Handicap hopefuls...
Was it ever in doubt?
Winx claimed her 23rd Group 1 victory at Randwick on Saturday in the 2019 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), but more importantly set a new world record winning her 31st consecutive start.
For the first time in a long time the seven-year-old wonder had some work to do down the straight after old boy Happy Clapper led from the front for the first time in his eight-year career. The three-time Group 1 winner leaped from the gates to lead by over three-lengths, but caught a serious case of the wobbles over the final furlong with Hugh Bowman and Winx looming down the outside.
“It was certainly no easy feat. I thought Winx would either beat him if they go too slow or they go too fast. I’d say they almost got it right. Under pressure she is very good” champion trainer Chris Waller said after the race.
Normally a cool customer, Winx stirred in the gates prior to the jump, but settled with over 400m to go to set a new race record in the time of 1:33.27 seconds. Waller didn’t appear fazed by Happy Clapper’s strong run, but thought it was good for Winx as she prepares for her grand finale in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) next month.
“It was a good test for her and will bring her on nicely for the next couple of runs because they need stimulating. They need to do it under race conditions to get that. It’s looking good for three weeks time then three weeks after that” Waller said.
Bowman was also surprised by Winx’s demeanor in the gates, but felt entirely confident in the might mare’s abilities.
“She was a little agitated today, more so than she has been recently, but fortunately they didn’t open when they pressed the button” Bowman said.
“Blake really made it a test today, as Josh Parr did a few years ago on Red Excitement, but she can cover all bases this mare. She’s just an amazing athlete, there are really no more words to describe her.”
After winning her fourth consecutive Chipping Norton, the plan ahead will be
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