The speed of the race and not the outside barrier will determine Winx’s chances of chalking up twenty-five straight wins when she contests the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on day two of The Championships at Randwick on Saturday.
Winx has drawn barrier ten in the ten horse field but her regular partner Hugh Bowman said the tempo of the race in the early and middle stages will determine whether he rides the super mare in the first half of the field or in the second half.
“I want to have Winx close enough if they go slow but not too close if they go fast,’’ Bowman told The Daily Telegraph.
“I don’t want to over-analyse it, but the bottom line is that there are horses there, no matter how it is run, that are going to perform very, very well.”
“If I could have had my pick (of the barriers) I would have chosen four to six, similar to last year, but it is what it is.’
“The reason I ride her a little differently to most horses is that she has more of an engine than most horses.
“It comes down to judging the speed of the race and having her comfortable and if she’s comfortable, we’ve all seen what she is capable of doing. The quicker the race is run, the more comfortable it is for me because she relaxes very well.
“The more of a test it is, the better she performs because her cruising speed is so much higher than any other horse that I’ve ever had anything to do with.
“If they go fast from the outset, it really plays into her hands. However, if they don’t go fast and it develops into a sprint home, she is capable of overcoming that, too.”
The Darren Weir trained Gailo Chop is a noted front runner who raced on the pace two starts back to win the Group 1 $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 24 and will be among the leaders again from barrier five with Mark Zahra in the saddle.
“If Gailo Chop is allowed to control things to his liking, he will take some running down,” Bowman said.
“If the pressure is right on, he might be feeling the pinch from the 200-300m mark. But if that’s the case, a horse like Humidor or Ambitious, who I thought was very impressive in the Tancred Stakes, will be capitalising on the genuine pace.’’
Bowman is not taking another win on the Chris Waller trained mare for granted and said that there are several horses in the field that are capable of putting pressure on Winx who is lining up for her twenty-fifth consecutive win in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes which she also won last year.
“Usually there is one main horse to be focused on as opposition, but this week there is three or four or maybe even five that are primed for their target,’’ Bowman said.
“They are over a suitable distance and racing in the form of their lives.”
Even though Bowman thinks there might be some challengers in the race, bookies at Ladbrokes.com.au don’t agree and have Winx as the $1.16 favourite for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Humidor the closest to her in the betting at $12 ahead of his stablemate Gailo Chop at $15 and Happy Clapper at $17.