The airborne Kelly Schweida-trained...
She is already being declared the Ladbrokes Cox Plate 2017 winner for the third straight year despite the race not having been run and Winx is stronger than ever according to trainer Chris Waller.
Waller remains in awe of how far this, by all physical attributes, standard mare has gone and taken him along the way.
Winx has won 25 of her 31 starts to date, the last 21 straight, and is a 14-time Group 1 winner.
She needs just one more to equal Black Caviar’s all-time record of 15 Group 1s and the now six-year-old daughter of Street Cry looks set to get that on Saturday in the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m).
The weight-for-age Cox Plate is dubbed the ‘race where champions are made’ and has been won by all the greats.
In the early days names like Phar Lap (1930-310, Ajax (1938), Rising Fast (1954) and Tobin Bronze (1966-67) claimed their spot in Cox Plate history.
More recently turf champions including Bonecrusher (1986), Sunline (1999-2000) and So You Think (2009-10) have been too good for their rivals.
It is a champions’ race and right now there is no bigger champion getting around than Winx.
The only horse to have secured a Cox Plate three-peat was Kingston Town (1980-82) but the punters are coming for Winx to join him with the hat-trick in a big way.
The dual defending champ is into $1.16 in Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au and nothing in the form or history books suggests this bonny mare will be defeated.
She silenced the crowd with her huge Turnbull Stakes win last start when racing at Headquarters for the first time and it’s full house at The Valley where Winx returns for the first time since blitzing her rivals by a record eight lengths in last year’s Cox Plate.
Her stride is something to behold and plenty turned up to see her flawless movement for themselves in the wee hours of Tuesday morning at Moonee Valley’s Breakfast With the Best.
Waller was again swamped by the media on Thursday morning and the Kiwi expat was cool, calm and collected talking about the quiet couple of days ahead of his stable ace before things explode on Cox Plate Day.
“Pretty quiet days ahead [for the horse] – we did three-quarter pace work this morning,” Waller, from his Flemington stable, told Racing Victoria before his scheduled press conference.
“Hugh Bowman was here nice and early, and he was smiling as much as he does.
“We were just chatting about how she was compared to last year – she basically did the same work this morning, and everything went to plan.
“It’s just one more quiet day’s work, and a jog around the park Saturday morning, and keep the nerves away from everybody – horse, trainer, staff – because it is a big deal for all of us.
“We understand the level of expectation of everybody, and it’s fantastic to see the Ladbrokes Cox Plate as a sell-out crowd.
“That really is a proud moment for our sport and us, as it’s directly involved with Winx.”
Winx knows how to turn good horses into dust with her sensational late finish and Moonee Valley is perfect for her.
From barrier six Bowman can keep her out of trouble as the rest jostle for positions ahead of that first notoriously tight turn.
Once they get to the 600m, Winx will be starting to wind-up through those powerful gears of hers and from there it is likely to be all over.
Whether she has improved since 12 months ago Waller isn’t sure, but really, she doesn’t need to in order to make a mess of her Cox Plate rivals again.
“She’s now a very strong horse carrying a bit more muscle – does it really make them run faster? I don’t know. Potentially it could make them a little more explosive,” he said, firing off a warning to the eight taking her on this weekend.
“But it’s hard to detract from when she did set a track record as a lighter horse as a four-year-old and won by the biggest margin as a five-year-old, and here she is as a six-year-old in good form and still holding together very well.
“Heading into this year’s Cox Plate, we’re trying to keep everything in a similar pattern to last year, and thankfully everything’s gone well.”
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