Sydney’s leading trainer Chris Waller describes Winx’s win as brilliant as he reflects on her victory in the Group 2 $250,000 The Star Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Monday.
“It was brilliant, absolute brilliant,” Waller told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
Winx was sent out as the $1.14 favourite for the Apollo Stakes and chalked up her fourteenth consecutive win and eighteenth overall victory when Hugh Bowman eased her down over the concluding stages to beat Hartnell by two and three quarter lengths but Waller said that it was not plain sailing for the world’s best turf horse and dual Cox Plate winner.
The glamour mare of the Australian turf was a little tardy at the start and Bowman said that she was left a little bit flat footed at the 600m when the others start to pick up the pace and Waller said he was a little concerned on those two occasions.
“Both of those times simply because you are always looking for negatives. I didn’t want her to get too far back in the field that there was a lot of horses resuming and middle distance horses, wanted to stay clear of them,” Waller said.
“And as they sprinted you could see Hugh start to work on her probably at the 450m, but it was simply a shakeup but she found top gear pretty quickly after that’.”
The result was the same as her last thirteen trips to the races and Waller was relieved to see her return to the track as good as ever as the race panned out the way everybody thought it would.
“Watching the race and the replay seeing her in a good position, seeing her travelling well and then hoping she could quicken when the pressure came into the race at the 400m as she did,” Waller said.
“I could see Hartnell following her and hoping that the gap between her and Hartnell wasn’t closing and fortunately it wasn’t.”
“Again watching it on the reply it was good to see her accelerate over the last 200m.”
Waller said the win looked easy but added that it wasn’t necessarily the case as he doesn’t like to put his horses under too much pressure in the training tracks and it is always a relief to see your horse do it on race day when it counts.
“It is never easy. There is always an element of uncertainty, especially the way we train them, we don’t put them under too much pressure on the training tracks and as you would have seen it, she doesn’t win her trials, she runs sort of thirds and fourths.”
Waller said that Winx has returned in the Autumn at the same level she reached when she won her second Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley during the 2016 Melbourne Spring Carnival and he doesn’t expect any further physical improvement from her.
“She hasn’t changed physically, she is the same as she was in the Spring. This is the first time I can say that. Prior to that she has always been growing and developing. But we have a mature horse now,” Waller said.
“I think she will maintain her ratings and it will obviously take a very good horse to beat her and it will take her to start to taper off as horses do at some stage in their career but as this stage I think she will be right for the next six month at least.”
Winx will have her next start in the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on February 25 then into the Group 1 $1m George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 18 before ending her 2017 Autumn Carnival campaign in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 8, the second day of ‘The Championships’.