Sydney’s leading trainer Chris Waller is happy to wait until the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 before declaring if his stable star Winx has come back better than ever this preparation.
Winx returned from a spell to record her tenth win in succession by scoring an effortless three and a half lengths victory over Hartnell in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick last Saturday.
The Warwick Stakes was the first of four lead up runs Waller will give his multiple Group 1 winning mare before she lines up at Moonee Valley in late October to defend her crown as the weight for champion in the Cox Plate.
Winx set a new course record of 2.2.98 seconds when she demolished last year’s star studded weight for age field with a winning margin of four and three quarter lengths and Waller said that it would very hard to go better than that this year.
“It would be hard to say better. I guess we won’t really know until the Group 1s, in particular the Cox Plate, and it would be hard to say that she could break the track record again as she did last year in the Cox Plate,” Waller told Racing Ahead.
“You still have to do it under pressure which is totally different when you are at you grand finals. So we won’t get too carried away but she certainly hasn’t gone backwards and physically she looks better.”
Winx has shown her liking for the Randwick 1600m with two of her six Group 1 wins being over that course and distance in the 2015 $1m The Star 150th Epsom and in the $3m The Star Doncaster Mile during this year’s Sydney Autumn Carnival and the champion mare will take on the Randwick ‘Mile’ again at her next two starts.
Waller has pencilled in the Group 2 $250,000 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) on September 3 and Group 1 $500,000 George Main Stakes (1600m) on September 17 before heading to Melbourne for the her final Cox Plate lead up run in the Group 1 $600,000 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 8.
“I am keen to stick to the plan I originally set for her,” Waller said.
“Because there are four races before the Cox Plate, I am not that keen on taking on all the others in every start and the program that I have set for her would shelter her a little, which we are entitled to do and that would see her run in the Chelmsford which is another Group 2 and obviously there would be other Group 1 horses in that race.”
“And obviously the George Main which is a Group 1 after that, then the Caulfield Stakes and then onto the Cox Plate”
“Of the five races, she is going to be running in three Group 1s and two Group 2s, and the softer we are on her in terms of placing her right, the further she gets in terms of maybe a run in the Mackinnon at the end of the Carnival.”
Waller couldn’t fault Winx’s first up effort in the Warwick Stakes, rating it a ten out ten performance and has reported that she has pulled up in fine order.
“It was an all round ten out ten performance. It was great,” Waller said.
“Pulled up very well, which just is as exciting as the run.”
In early Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Winx has firmed in slightly to $2.50, maintaining her spot at the top of the market order, well ahead of her nearest rival, the Aidan O’Brien trained Highland Reel, at $15.
Group 1 winners Lucia Valentina, The Untited States and Yankee Rose all share the third line of betting at $17.