Champion mare Winx has stepped up her Cox Plate defence when she stretched out nicely at the end of her 900m barrier at Randwick this morning to finish a handy third.
Jockey Hugh Bowman let the Chris Waller trained Winx find her feet in the early stages and settled her near the tail of the eight horse field until well into the straight.
Bowman eased Winx to the outside in the straight and she ran home under her own steam to knock her stablemate Tom Melbourne out of third place right on the line.
The Mark Newnham trained Diamond Tathagata and Comin’ Through, one of six Waller trained horses in the trial, shared the lead throughout the trial and finished one, two in the that order.
The winner Diamond Tathagata clocked a winning time of 53.70 for the 900m on the course proper, beating Comin’ Through by a short head with another one and half lengths away to Winx in third spot.
Waller has selected the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on August 19 as Winx’s first 2017 Spring Carnival appearance but will give her one more trial in her preparation for her return to the race track.
Waller is setting Winx towards winning a third straight Group 1 $3m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley and if she can achieve that the mighty mare will equal the legendary Kingston Town’s record of three consecutive wins in the weight for age championship.
Bowman was happy with Winx’s action in today’s trial and thinks that the mighty mare may have strengthened up a little bit on her last preparation.
“She ran a place today and that was encouraging,” Bowman said.
“She felt great, in a really good frame of mind, her action was exactly how it was as she left off last preparation. She feels to me that she has strengthened up a little bit with natural development.”
“It was probably as good as she has ever trialled in all honesty.”
“She was relaxed early on in the trial and you will see with the replay when I got some open space in the final 200m, she really went to search for the line.”
“I allowed her to use herself a little bit but I just kept a lid on her this morning and she can probably do a bit6 more in her next trial.”
“It was great to see back out and good to have her back.”
Waller was also happy to see Winx back in action and anticipates the mare having another successful Spring Carnival preparation.
“Great to see her back in this shape and she looks to have a good preparation ahead,” Waller said.
“I really liked the way that she settled and quickened up the last 200m.That is starting to get to the business end of things
“It is just a pre-season game and we just wanted to make sure she got to this morning in good shape, reasonable fitness and she has and the trial itself has gone well also.”
“She has finally developed into a racehorse. She is as strong as you will ever see her. We purposely don’t let her get too heavy.
“Another trial in two weeks and then off to the races here at Royal Randwick on the nineteenth of August in the 1400m Warwick Stakes, that will be her starting point.”
“We definitely have the first race mapped out and what follows on from there will be pretty traditional.”
Early betting at Ladbrokes.com.au has Winx posted as the $1.50 favourite to make it three Cox Plate wins in a row with the Aidan O’Brien trained Highland Reel and high class Japanese galloper Makahiki the next in the betting at $15.
Early market order for the 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.50 Winx, $15 Highland Reel, Makahiki, $21 Ribchester, Werther, $26 Egg Tart, Mekhtaal, Neorealism, Royal Symphony, $34 Articus, Decorated Knight, Exospheric, Gingernuts, Hartnell, Omei Sword, Redkirk Warrior, Scales Of Justice, Scottish, Tosen Stardom, Yankee Rose, $41 or better the rest.