Winx will have one less rival in her return after the connections of Trapeze Artist opted for the Gr. 1 Canterbury Stakes in preference to the Gr. 2 Apollo Stakes.
Trainer Gerald Ryan and owner Bert Vieira have decided to bypass next Saturday’s Apollo Stakes after Trapeze Artist’s fourth as favourite in the Expressway Stakes.
“He will go to the Canterbury Stakes with a trial before,” Ryan said.
Most of Winx’s opposition is expected to come from within her own stable, with trainer Chris Waller to enter five or six.
The notable exception to the Waller runners will be the Pat Webster-trained Happy Clapper, who won a barrier trial at Randwick on Thursday as he prepares for his return after suffering a bleeding attack in the spring.
He has an enviable first-up record, including a win in the Canterbury Stakes last March. He will, however, be up against it with Winx right where the team wants her ahead of what is most likely her final racing campaign.
The Winx caravan travelled from Rosehill to Randwick on Saturday morning to give the mighty mare an outing, a gallop and a feel for raceday conditions.
Helping the atmosphere was the presence of several hundred of her fans who welcomed the opportunity to get close to Winx before her gallop.
Once on the track, she reassured her jockey Hugh Bowman she was spot-on for her return, giving stablemate Egg Tart a four-length start before gathering her in near the post and hitting the line under a tight hold.
“It’s good to get the pre-race butterflies out of the way,” Waller said. “Giving her a day out just breaks up the routine.
“It’s like a pre-season game for a football team and this is as close as we can get to a raceday.”
Australian Oaks winner Unforgotten and Egg Tart will be among the opposition in the Apollo.
“We usually have quite a few in this race,” Waller said. “It is a starting point for the autumn for many of our team.”
Winx will be aiming for her 30th straight win when she runs in the Apollo, a race she won in 2016 and 2017 but missed last year when Bowman was suspended.