The 2016 Apollo Stakes field has been released and Cox Plate winner Winx will jump from barrier one in the Group 2 event at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Winx was the undisputed star of the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival and she recorded thrilling victories in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) and Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) before she stamped herself as the best horse in Australia with her dominant victory in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
The Street Cry filly will start her autumn campaign in the Apollo Stakes this weekend and she will likely have an additional two starts in the lead-up to the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 9.
Winx is joined in the Apollo Stakes field by stablemates Who Shot Thebarman and Grand Marshal, who are both set to follow a path towards the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) after they quinelled the race last year.
The only other trainer that is set to have multiple runners in the Apollo Stakes field is John O’Shea, who has included both Magic Hurricane and Hauraki in the acceptances for the $250,000 event.
Magic Hurricane and has not been seen at the races since he produced an outstanding staying performance to take out the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on October 3, while Hauraki was sent for a stint in the spelling paddock following the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Team Hawkes-trained Leebaz, Australian Oaks winner Gust Of Wind and Gai Waterhouse-trained Bohemian Lily are also set to return to the races in the Apollo Stakes.
The Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) is normally a key lead-up race to the Apollo Stakes, but Solicit is the only horse that is set to back-up in the Group 2 event this weekend.
Solicit finished a gallant second behind Our Boy Malachi in the Expressway Stakes and she was set to make the trip to Melbourne for the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m), but trainer Gerald Ryan elected to keep her in Sydney for the Apollo Stakes.
The only other horse that will go into the Apollo Stakes with racing under his belt this preparation is Peter Robl-trained Centre Pivot, who will return to Sydney after taking out the Listed Bernborough Quality (1615m) and finished third in the $1 million Magic Millions Trophy (1800m) during his time in Queensland.
The 2015 edition of the Apollo Stakes was won by Contributer, who went on to take out both the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) and the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m).