The field of nine for the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick today is intact with Winx set to claim her twenty-third consecutive win.
Winx is still at the very short odds of $1.08 at Ladbrokes.com.au on race morning with the Kris Lees trained Prized Icon the closest in the betting at $14 with Stampede the only other runner under the $20 mark at $17.
Winx will jump from barrier six with Hugh Bowman in the saddle and both jockey and trainer Chris Waller are happy with the mare who will be having her first run back since making history during the 2017 Melbourne Spring Carnival by scoring a third consecutive win in the Group 1 $3m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley which equalled Kingston Town’s long standing record of three straight Cox Plate wins and took her winning sequence to twenty-two.
“The start of every preparation is important to see how she has come back. Visibly to our eye and what we have seen in her track work and the way Hugh is describing her under his guidance, everything seems perfect,” Waller said on Sky Racing HQ Saturday.
The Randwick track for today’s Chipping Norton Stakes meeting has been rated a Soft 5 track and Waller said that would be perfect for Winx who also performs at her best on good tracks and heavy tracks.
“Those good tracks seem to just take her out of her comfort zone to some degree,” Waller said.
“She is still effective on them and she can run track record times and one day in the Spring she broke 32s for the last 600m which makes it a bit hard when you are doing things like that to win.”
Waller is not concerned that Winx will be tackling the 1600m of the Chipping Norton Stakes first up after missing a run over 1400m when she didn’t start in the Group 2 $250,000 The Star Apollo Stakes at Randwick a fortnight ago.
Instead the Street Cry mare won a specially convened 1200m barrier trial against five of her stablemates in between races at Randwick on Apollo Stakes Race Day and Waller said he has her fit enough to tackle the 1600m of the Chipping Norton Stakes first up.
“She is a horse that performs well under pressure. You are going to get more pressure over a mile than you are over 1400m. It takes the variables out when you are running over a mile,” Waller said.
“In a 1400m if she was half a length slow, the sectional times and all of that comes into consideration as it does in a mile but I think less effective.”
Waller will also be saddling up Who Shot Thebarman and Libran in the Chipping Norton Stakes and both stayers will then follow a similar path on the way to the Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 14.
Libran ($51) has drawn the rails with Brenton Avdulla to ride while Who Shot Thebarman ($101) will jump from gate three for Tye Angland.
“They will put themselves in the race but when the pressure is on I would say they will struggle to keep up,” Waller said.
“It is an important race for them. They will both go into the Sky High Stakes in two weeks time.”
“Libran did win second up over 2000m last prep and then The BMW third up and then the Sydney Cup fourth up.”