Australia’s glamour race mare Winx will face a small field when she resumes in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
When nominations closed on Monday Winx was one of nine horses entered for the weight for age race, forcing the Australian Turf to extend the deadline until 11am today.
But instead of getting extra entrants, Winx’s trainer Chris Waller withdrew multiple Group 1 winner Preferment, leaving the leading stable with four of the remaining eight contenders.
Preferment pleased the stable with a third in a 1030m Rosehill barrier trial on Monday morning andd will now make his 2016 Spring Carnival debut in the Group 2 $250,000 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 3
Waller’s likely stablemates to race alongside Winx are stayers Who Shot Thebarman and Grand Marshall and 2015 Group 1 Champion Stakes winner Vanburgh.
But the field could be reduced even further at acceptance time on Wednesday with Lindsay Park co-trainer David Hayes telling Sky Channel’s Andrew Bensley that Irish import Dibayani won’t go around in the Warwick Stakes and will be saved for the Group 2 $175,000 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on September 3.
Winx’s main rival look to be the Kris Lees trained Lucia Valentina who is also resuming from a short break after winning the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 9, the second day of ‘The Championships’.
Lees also nominated Lucia Valentina for the Group 3 $125,000 Show County Quality (1200m) but is most likely to start her in the weight for age Warwick Stakes after receiving 61.5kg in the Handicap race.
“I say at this stage we are likely to run in the Warwick Stakes, I’ll also nominate for the Show County but would only go that way if the weather means we miss a gallop,” Lees said.
Winx, the 2015 Cox Plate winner, collected her ninth win on the trot with her victory in the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 2 but was in the headlines last week for a different reason.
Waller only informed Racing New South Wales stewards last Thursday that Winx had undergone surgery on her near fore fetlock on April 11 to remove a bone chip.
The news came as a shock to the stewards and the general public but Waller insists that he told the authorities of the operation at the appropriate time.
Winx has shown no ill effects from the surgery and Waller has been pleased with her two barrier trials in preparation for her return to the race track as she kicks off another Cox Plate campaign.
The Street Cry mare finished fourth in two 850m Randwick barrier trials on July 29 and August 9 with Hugh Bowman in the saddle on both occasions..
“It was good to get her through the trial, we are gradually getting her fitness levels up, which is always difficult at this time of year,” Waller said after Winx’s trial at Randwick on August 9.
“Hughie just kept a good hold of her, she wasn’t out to break any records, he was happy and therefore I am happy.
“It has been a carefully-planned program getting her to this stage and fortunately everything has gone to plan, it is when you start missing trials and missing gallops that is when you start to come under pressure.
“She is exactly where she needs to be.”
Winx’s has been installed the short priced $1.40 favourite for the Warwick Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au with Lucia Valentina on the second line of betting at $4.80.
Early Warwick Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.40 Winx, $4.80 Lucia Valentina, $8 Rebel Dane, $10 Dibayani, $11 Hartnell, $16 Vanburgh, $81 Grand Marshall, Who Shot Thebarman.