Reigning Group 1 winning jockey Hugh Bowman admits that Winx can make him nervous in the barriers and hoping she doesn’t repeat her slow getaway in the Warwick Stakes when she lines up in the Group 2 $250,000 Tattersalls Club Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer Chris Waller has added the ear muffs to Winx’s race day gear after the champion mare had to make up at least four lengths to catch up to the second last horse before the home after she bungled the start and then had to use the length of the Randwick straight to nail her stalemate Foxplay in the shadows of the post to win the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) on August 19.
Bowman is hoping the ear muffs will help Winx relax in the barriers and and jump away on equal terms with the rest of the field in the Chelmsford Stakes and go one to win her nineteenth race in succession.
“The only time I’m nervous when I’m on her back is in the barriers because she does have the tendency to be a little bit anxious and although the timing was most inappropriate last start we are hoping that it won’t happen again,” Bowman said.
“It’s just a case of Winx being Winx and we’re aware of it and always have been. She knows its game time. She is obviously very intelligent so just wants to get on with the job. The best thing I can do is stay relaxed myself and not get too carried away with what we saw last start.
“She wears (ear muffs) all the time. It just dulls the sound. They are sensitive creatures and react to sound. The idea is to help her stay a little more relaxed.
“She’s a champion and overcomes adversity but hopefully she doesn’t have to do it again.”
Winx had a solid gallop on Tuesday morning and had an easier work out on Thursday and Bowman is very happy with the way the champion mare has recovered from her first up win in the Warwick Stakes.
“She had a pretty firm gallop here on Tuesday morning,” Bowman said.
“Probably the firmest gallop we have given her, with the exception of her second trial, and she has come through it in flying colours. She showed this morning that she’s ready to go for Saturday.”
“I felt she came through the run, (given) her mannerisms immediately after the race, more comfortable than what she did first up last prep.
“She has relaxed a little bit in her demeanour since. She was quite full of herself jumping around but I feel a bit of that nervous energy has left her body.”
The Chelmsford Stakes will be Winx’s second run into her 2017 Spring Carnival campaign which is ultimately heading to claim a third straight win in the Group 1 $3m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 28.
Winx has been the Queen of the Australian Turf for the last two years and proved to be the weight for age champion with her wins in the last two runnings of the Cox Plate when she beat Criterion by four and three quarters of a length in 2015 and then extended her winning margin to eight lengths when she beat Hartnell last year.
Waller is not concerned about Winx’s tardiness in the starting gates, explaining that the mare had only missed the start that badly once from probably forty times she has been through the barriers.
“In her career, including races and trials, she has probably been to the barriers about 40 times. She does get playful in the gates but she has only missed the start once to that degree,” Waller said.
“We’re just going to take one run at a time. Obviously the Cox Plate is her grand final. The George Main is definitely her first Group One target of the season and beyond that we’re yet to work out. She’ll tell us.”
Winx’s next run after the Chelmsford Stakes will be in the old Group 1 George Main Stakes which is now named the Colgate Optic White Stakes (1600m) with prizemoney of $500,000 at Randwick on September 16.
Winx will be ridden again by Hugh Bowman from barrier three in the twelve horse Chelmsford Stakes field and dominates the betting again at $1.09 on Thursday morning at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Kris Lees trained Sense Of Occasion is the closest rival to Winx in the market order at $19 and the seven year old will be having his first run back after winning the Group 1 $650,000 Hardy Brothers Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben on May 20 during the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
Doomben Cup winning jockey Corey Brown takes the ride again and the Street Sense gelding will jump from gate two.