Trainer Chris Waller gives his last thoughts on the mighty mare Winx before she lines up in the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Waller has Winx, the $1.80 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au, in tip top order to defend her Cox Plate crown after winning the ‘Weight For Age Championship Of Australasia’ last year.
The 2015 Cox Plate victory was one of twelve consecutive wins Winx has strung together since her win in the Group 3 $125,000 XXXX Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) at the Sunshine Coast during the 2015 Queensland Winter Carnival.
Winx has had three Cox Plate lead up runs with two wins at Randwick in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) and the Group 1 $500,000 Colgate Optic White Stakes (George Main Stakes) (1600m) followed by a win in the Group 1 $600,000 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 8.
Waller said that he hasn’t thought of the Cox Plate as a two horse battle with the John O’Shea trained $3.70 second favourite Hartnell and will leave the final outcome of the race to champion jockey Hugh Bowman.
“I am going to be a hundred per cent honest, I haven’t put any thought into it at all and I know Hugh Bowman as well as anybody, if not better, and we will chat pre-race and I am pretty sure Hughy will say to me ‘Chris, I just want to let her be where she is comfortable and we will go from there’,” Waller told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
“That’s what makes Hugh Bowman so good, he is the ultimate horseman. And then it comes down to how she jumps, how quickly she finds her rhythm.”
“And if you take a horse out of its comfort zone that’s when you are going to be in trouble.”
“She simply has to turn up as she has done at her most recent runs and will be very hard to beat.”
“I have full respect for the race and the pressure it puts on other horses and there are some great horses in the race this year.”
Waller said that he gets a great buzz being part of the Spring Carnival and especially having a great association with the best horse racing in Australia at the moment.
“It is a great privilege to be part of the Spring Carnival, Caulfield last week, Moonee Valley today and tomorrow then onto Flemington, it really is a buzz,” Waller said.
“It is a privilege to be involved with Winx and she is the one making the headlines and we are just going for the ride.”
“We know we have a horse good enough. It is always good to go into a race as an underdog but when you’ve got a favourite, Winx takes it to the new level of a bit of calmness because you know your horse is so good.”
Waller is hoping it doesn’t develop into a Bonecrusher – Our Waverley Star battle which saw the two great Kiwi gallopers take off from the 800m and eyeballed each other all the way to the line in the 1986 Cox Plate.
But he knows however the race pans out, Winx will have had a tough run and will sleep well on Saturday night.
“I would like it to be as easy as possible,” Waller said.
“It is going to be a night that Winx will sleep well after the race I am sure.”
The prospect of a rain affected track from forecast showers for Melbourne today has Waller unfazed and he said that Winx will just have to cope with the conditions that are served up to her and hope for good luck in running.
“If it happens, it happens. Luck in running is probably the biggest thing that we have no control of. I have great confidence in the Moonee Valley track,” Waller said.
“I was amazed when I walked on it last week sometime, it was just a great sole of grass. Yeah there will be seventeen or eighteen races before the Cox Plate, that’s what we are dealt with and I am sure we will cope pretty well.”
Cox Plate market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.80 Winx, $3.70 Hartnell, $16 Yankee Rose, $19 Vadamos, $21 Hauraki, $26 Lucia Valentina, Black Heart Bart, $101 Awesome Rock, Happy Clapper, $151 Happy Trails.