Trainer Chris Waller was happy, jockey Hugh Bowman was happy and Winx was happy after she produced a slick final gallop in the lead up to the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Bowman was aboard Winx as she galloped in the dark at Rosehill on Thursday morning and the super star mare was able to record 22 seconds for the 400m of her work out.
“She is more settled. That suggests to me she is a happier in her own skin,” Bowman said.
She has been going really nicely all preparation and this morning suggested she is ready to go to the races.
“She settled down after her work really nicely whereas this time last prep it took her quite a while to relax. To me that’s a really good sign.”
Waller added that Winx had matured into a well-balanced racehorse and is handling the racing and her track work now better than ever before.
“She is a lot easier horse to train now than when she was four. With age she has matured and become strong,” Waller said.
“She copes with her racing and training better and is handling it better mentally.
“There are so many positive signs that she is just as well now as she has ever been. There’s certainly no signs of her training off or suggesting she doesn’t want to be a race horse.”
Winx’s 2018 Sydney Autumn Carnival campaign was scheduled to kick off in the Group 2 $250,000 The Star Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 17 but Waller put back her reappearance by two weeks because of Bowman’s unavailability because of a careless riding suspension.
Winx 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.
“It’s not just about (Bowman) riding her because he’s the only jockey she runs for, that’s far from the truth,” Waller said.
“The fact is, she didn’t need to run two weeks ago. It hasn’t affected her at all. It wasn’t a key target race – I think it’s so important you keep the team together when you can. He is a very important part of her and keeping her settled.”
“Everything we have tried she has done with distinction whether it be 1100m in her first career start or right through to 2200m when she won the (Queensland) Oaks. She really is an amazing athlete.”
“The hardest thing is waiting. From the Cox Plate you are already planning towards this preparation. Everything has gone to plan and we wouldn’t change anything in any way.”
Winx 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 three times Cox Plate winner is marked at $1.08 at Ladbrokes.com.au to win her third straight Chipping Norton Stakes and her twenty-third win in succession and will jump from barrier six in the nine horse field with Bowman in the saddle again.
Winx’s closest rival in the betting is the Kris Lees trained Prized Icon at $13 ahead of Stampede at $17.