The wondermare Winx could bid for a fourth straight victory at the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick on 2nd March. This prestigious 1600m race always attracts the finest weight-for-age horses the Sydney Autumn Carnival has to offer and Winx has been invincible for the past three years. She has not suffered a single defeat and she is now the world’s top ranked racehorse after blowing away the opposition in several high-profile contests. She is scheduled to compete in the Chipping Norton Stakes once more this year and she is the overwhelming favourite to secure yet another famous victory.
Her love affair with this race began in 2016, when she displayed her enormous potential by coming from midfield to surge to victory ahead of Dibayani and Hauraki. It was a seventh straight win for Winx and Hugh Bowman declared that she was the best horse he had ever ridden. Trainer Chris Waller said she was special to watch, but he stopped short of proclaiming her a future champion. Even in his wildest dreams, he could not have hoped to saddle her through such an extraordinary few years since then.
By the 2017 renewal of this race, she had extended her winning streak to 14, seized a second Cox Plate and been named Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year. She opened at just $1.10, but that eased out to $1.22 as a result of very heavy going. Waller debated whether to scratch her, with rain still falling straight before the race and conditions looking positively treacherous. But he decide to send her out and Winx delivered a champion’s performance by adapting to the heavy surface and beating Lasqueti Spirit and Who Shot Thebarman by a comfortable margin.
Last year she made it a hat-trick at the Chipping Norton Stakes and took her winning run to 23 by producing another dominant performance. She breezed past her rivals and opened up a seven-length lead over Victoria Derby victor Prized Icon. That saw her overtake Black Caviar’s 15 Group 1 wins in Australia and cemented her status as the greatest racehorse the country has ever seen. She has swept aside rivals with contempt, and she has also delivered stirring comebacks to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. She always seems to do enough to secure victory and she has become the darling of many punters.
Winx is now seven years old, she has four Cox Plates to her name, she has raked in $23 million in prize money and her winning run stands at 29. Waller now speaks in nothing but the most reverential tones when discussing her, and he feels that she is due another sensational season. “Winx hasn’t changed one bit, which is scary to think,” said the trainer. “We are constantly looking for the body clock to suggest that she’s not as effective as she has been. She’s not showing any signs whatsoever. Her attitude is great. She’s moving well and her work has been great.”
Her invincibility in recent years has been widely publicised and it is therefore understandable to see her as the overwhelming favourite for the Chipping Norton Stakes at bookmakers listed at Punters. However, there has never been a bigger scalp than Winx and trainers across the land will be desperate to end her winning streak this year. The usual suspects, from Hartnell to Land Of Plenty, are likely to be in the mix for this race, while exciting runners like Youngstar, Happy Clapper, Humidor, Ace High, D’Argento, Galaxy Star and Avilius will be keen to give Winx a run for her money.
It is hard to look past Winx for the race, but there will be plenty of each-way value on her rivals and it is always worth delving into the recent statistics to arm yourself with as much information as possible before placing a bet. Twelve of the last 18 winners have contested the Group 2 Apollo Stakes two weeks previously. Five have won both: Winx, of course, and also Contributer, Theseo, Lonhro and Grande Armee. Aside from Winx, Tuesday Joy is the only mare to triumph since the turn of the century.
Yet the main draw will clearly be Winx, provided she remains free of injury and in excellent shape by the day of the race. She is officially the world’s best racehorse and it will be thrilling to watch her embark upon her farewell campaign. She begins at the Apollo, which offers $140,000 to the winner, and then she is highly likely to run in the Chipping Norton Stakes, which pays the first place horse $344,000. She is now just $1.6 million behind the world’s highest earning horse of all time, Arrogate, and Winx could overtake him by going on to claim the Rosehill and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes before her career ends this year.