Much loved Queensland trainer Desleigh Forster...
Jockey Hugh Bowman could not have been happier with champion mare Winx in her exhibition gallop on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’ saying she was “fresh and ready to go” in Saturday week’s 2018 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Bowman was ruled out of racing officially at Royal Randwick today due to illness, but got clearance from Racing NSW stewards on Friday afternoon to jump back aboard the Chris Waller-trained Winx for her gallop after the first on Doncaster Day.
Australia’s turf darling stole the show just after 11:30am, storming down the Randwick straight ahead of her autumn grand final in the Group 1 $4 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in seven days’ time.
The six-year-old daughter of Street Cry was put through her paces by Bowman over 1000m and finished the work in 1:02.19 including a smart final 600m sectional of 34.26 seconds.
It was the perfect tune-up from the record holding 17-time Group 1 winner who will attempt to repeat the 25 consecutive wins of Black Caviar when she lines-up as the odds-on favourite defending her Queen Elizabeth Stakes crown.
Back on Winx for the first time since her Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) success at Rosehill on Golden Slipper Day, March 24, Bowman was confident the country’s highest-ever earning racehorse was spot-on for next weekend.
“She was strong. With the ear muffs off, the crowd here, the race day atmosphere certainly switches her on and that’s the purpose as to why Chris brings her here,” he told Racing NSW.
“To get that extra 15% of energy spent without actually having to work her any harder on the track.
“She is fresh and ready to go. When she knew I was about to slip her a bit of leather she really took advantage of it and worked home really quickly. She enjoyed the work and so did I.”
Bowman was as always in awe of Winx’s ability not just racing-wise, but the way she was able to concentrate and really put no matter the circumstances.
“When I galloped her at Flemington before the Turnbull Stakes there was a huge flock of seagulls in the straight and she got to within a couple of metres of a few of them but she had her head down and would’ve taken them out,” he said.
“Most horses, I’d say 95% in that circumstance, would hesitate and baulk. She went through them as if they weren’t there. It’s an advertisement for how focused she is as an athlete and it’s one of the attributes that makes her so special.”
Waller, who along with connections made the call to keep Winx in Australia for the remainder of the year and bypass a Royal Ascot bid in England, was also thrilled with the gallop.
“She makes it look like it was dead-set three quarter pace and was only just getting into her stride,” the master trainer said.
“Today was the most she has done in the past few weeks. Next week she’ll have one more piece of work to keep her nice and sharp.”
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