Leading Group 1 winning jockey Hugh Bowman has the job of keeping super star mare Winx relaxed and happy in the lead up to the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The Australian Turf Club is expecting a crowd of around $25,000 to fill Randwick on day two of ‘The Championships’ to witness Winx claim her seventeenth win in succession and Bowman said part of his job is to keep the Chris Waller trained mare calm on her way to the barriers before the start of her Sydney Autumn Carnival grand final.
“When I get on her in the enclosure the crowd is buzzing and are anxious too to see what is going to happen but when I go out onto the track and canter off to the gates all those emotions disappear and I mean that, they just sort of go to the side, and it’s just me and Winx,” Bowman told Racing New South Wales News.
“I don’t go too fast to the barriers, I just try to keep her relaxed and happy. She knows what she is there for. At the end of the day, the horse gives me a lot of confidence which ultimately keeps me relaxed.
“When we go out to the track and we’re clapped onto the course, that for me is very special and it really hits home when you see all the young kids lining the fence to see a champion. She is doing great things for our sport and is special to a lot of people.”
The new Queen Of The Turf will complete her four race Autumn Carnival campaign when she lines up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Bowman said that he could feel her getting fitter and stronger as the preparation progressed.
“She is really strong and in good shape for Saturday,” Bowman said after Winx completed her final gallop on the Rosehill course proper on Thursday morning.
“It gets easier as the preparation gets on because the fitter she gets the stronger she becomes and the more agile she feels. I’ve got a very good understanding of the horse and we’re very comfortable together.”
Winx has drawn barrier three in a final field of nine for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Bowman in the saddle again and she is certain to start as the long odds on favourite again after starting well into the red at her three Autumn Carnival outings this campaign.
Winx was sent out as the $1.14 favourite when she won the Group 2 $250,000 The Star Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 13 and followed that up at $1.22 when she scored a comfortable win in the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on February 25.
The mighty mare was then sent out as the $1.26 favourite for the Group 1 $1m China Horse Club George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 18 and didn’t let her followers down with a seven and a quarter lengths win over the Kris Lees trained Le Romain.
Betting at Ladbrokes.com.au on Thursday has Winx as the $1.09 favourite to keep her winning momentum going in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes while the John O’Shea trained Hartnell is the closest to her in the market order at $11.