The always-popular Caloundra Cup 2022 race...
Unsurprisingly master trainer Chris Waller has confirmed Sydney is the focus for his star mare Winx this autumn with the ten-time Group 1 winner to skip the Australian Cup 2017 Saturday week at Flemington.
Heading towards legendary status after posting her fifteenth win on the trot on a mud Randwick track in last weekend’s Chipping Norton Stakes, Winx was a surprise nomination for the $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on March 11.
Installed at a short price of $3.20 for the Flemington feature on ‘Super Saturday’, this week Waller confirmed Winx would not be racing in Melbourne until the spring with a third Cox Plate title pending.
“She can either go a hundred metres across the road to Rosehill or a thousand kilometres to Flemington,” he told the media.
“You can’t say no anymore because there might be a reason for us to go there, so it was just paid to keep options open.
“The VRC have been in touch with us but the plan was always been with Sydney with her in the autumn and it hasn’t changed. I can’t be clearer than that.
“Melbourne had her in the spring. She’ll do some of her racing there after she’s finished with the spring carnival here in Sydney.
“In autumn it’s all Sydney, it’s always been the plan.”
Instead the champion five-year-old will look to stay undefeated since April of 2015 running in the $1 million Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 18 and the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 8.
“She’ll be running the George Ryder and three weeks later in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes,” Waller confirmed, adding on Tuesday that the mare had come through the Chipping Norton Stakes in fine form.
“She was at the beach this morning, not sunbathing, walking through the water doing her recovery.
“The beauty of her racing on Saturday means she can now have a leisurely time for the next seven days and then start to gear up towards Rosehill.”
With Winx officially ruled out of Australian Cup contention, the battle for favouritism takes place between the Darren Weir-trained Humidor ($4.60) and Ciaron Maher’s Caulfield Cup winner Jameka ($4.80).
Up-and-coming Kiwi expat Humidor is a four-year-old son of Teofilo who caught the eye with back-to-back seconds in February at Caulfield.
The latest was behind in-form stablemate Stratum Star in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) last weekend on Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day.
The Peter Young Stakes has produced three of the past five Australian Cup winners with the last to do the double being Fiorente (2014).
Classy four-year-old Myboycharlie mare Jameka is also a Peter Young Stakes gradate having finished under a length away fourth in the lead-up run.
Maher has always maintained the Australian Cup third-up is when Jameka will be peaking and she looks right on track to secure her first win since the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) last October.
History is working against Jameka however as only one mare has beaten the boys home in the Australian Cup since 1998 (Dane Ripper) when Makybe Diva (2005) saluted as the odds-on favourite over a decade ago.
Waller won last year’s Australian Cup on protest with Preferment who was second past the post behind Awesome Rock before the stewards reversed the result.
Without Winx in the mix, Waller still has a chance at back-to-back titles with Preferment there again as well as the imported Endless Drama a possible runner in the Australian Cup field for the stable.
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