Winx and Hugh Bowman return amidst rapturous applause to the Randwick winner's stall.
Winx was in a class of her own at Randwick today as she made a procession of the A$4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes in equalling Black Caviar’s 25-win streak.
Superlatives might be running out for the mighty mare, but the same could not be said for her adoring public, who flocked to Royal Randwick to cheer for their queen.
The official attendance figure was 25,822 and it’s fair to suggest that all but a handful of that number were behind Winx from the time the man they call Hughie was legged up to when he brought her back to the winner’s stall amidst rapturous applause.
The Winx phenomenon has been played out many times over the past three years as the rising seven-year-old has ticked off the wins. That phenomenon runs pretty much the same every time, but it’s never something you tire off.
As today’s 2000-metre contest unfolded with Bowman content to bide his time at the rear of the field, the crowd remained quiet. Then as one the cheering broke out as the field approached the home trun – Winx was on the move and another slice of history was hers for the taking.
Take it she did with consummate ease, streaking past her opposition with that uncanny long, low stride that no others can match. Nearly four lengths clear at the line from the brave pacemaker Gailo Chop, she stopped the clock at 2:01.65 – the fastest Queen Elizabeth time this century – and a final 600-metres sectional of 34.32 seconds.
Career win 29 and Group One win 18 took hear earnings from 35 starts to almost A$19 million.
One of the first to congratulate part-owner Peter Tighe was the principal in runner-up Gailo Chop’s ownership, Terry Henderson. It was more than a sporting gesture from the boss of OTI; his beaming face told the same story as so many others disconnected from the result – that once again they had been privileged to witness greatness.
“To have a horse like her, ridden by the world’s greatest jockey, trained by the world’s greatest trainer – you can’t get any better than that,” said Tighe.
For their respective parts in this great story, Waller and Bowman continued to hold Winx in similar awe.
“There’s so many cogs to the wheel and I know I get the dream ride here today,” commented Bowman. “God forbid if something went wrong, it wouldn’t be a good place to be, but she’s so exceptional, she is able to overcome everything and what a pleasure she is for sport.
“I know I’ve got the engine to round them up, but I can’t do it on my own. The bottom line is she’s got 10 or 12 lengths on her rivals, it makes it easy for me.”
Waller will take little time to reflect on Winx’s final performance for the season as he anticipates what awaits in the spring, namely an attempt at a record no other horse possesses, a fourth Cox Plate.
“We’ll have thoughts on our minds from tonight,” he said. “We’ll start to work the time off she’s had and how long she needs to be in to prepare.
“You can only get the best out of her when she’s running against the best. We’re at a stage now we are used to this constant pressure which is pretty intense.”