Leading Group 1 winning jockey Hugh Bowman is uncertain if the addition of ear muffs to Winx’s race day gear has affected her performances but the champion mare will wear the head piece again as she chases her twentieth straight win in the Group 1 $500,000 Colgate Optic White Stakes (George Main Stakes) (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer Chris Waller had Winx wear the ear muffs in the Group 2 $250,000 Tattersalls Club Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 2 to try to avoid another barrier mishap that saw the mighty mare dawdle out of the starting gates in her first up win in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick two weeks earlier.
Winx jumped very cleanly in the Chelmsford Stakes and successfully ran down the tearaway leader Red Excitement to claim her nineteenth successive victory, but Bowman can’t say if the ear muffs played a big part in her sensational performance.
“Certainly haven’t been any hindrance at all. It is difficult to know how much they help because as she gets into her preparation she is inclined to relax within herself and the manners that she showed first up when she missed the start was nothing unusual. It has been common for her to behave like that in the barriers in the past,” Bowman told Sky Racing HQ.
“She was very good last start in the Chelmsford in the barriers and I think the ear muffs may have helped but it is hard to really know.”
“Chris (Waller) is such a perfectionist that when we had that disruption first up, he wanted to make sure that he did everything he could do to prevent that from happening again.”
“She was beautifully behaved that other day so I think it is understandable why they stay on. They are certainly not of any hindrance. She has worked in them, she basically lives in them.”
Bowman has been aboard Winx in several gallops since her last start win in the Chelmsford Stakes and said that she felt great.
“She is very well,” Bowman said.
“She has come through her last run well. Am very pleased with how she is feeling. She is bright and happy.”
“She is a little bit more relaxed now at this stage of her preparation which is encouraging for me, but that is pretty standard for her. Once that nervous energy starts to disappear from her as she gets into her preparation, her fitness levels increase and she is a bit more relaxed which is a good sign.”
Bowman will again be in charge of Winx who has drawn the inside gate in the eight horse George Main Stakes field.
Winx’s main Spring Carnival mission is to win a third successive Group 1 $3m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 28 and will have one more run after the George Main Stakes as her final lead up to the ‘Weight For Age Championship’.
Waller is still undecided if she will stay in Sydney for the Group 3 $500,000 Craven Plate (200m) at Randwick on October 14 or head to Melbourne on the same day for the Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield.
If Waller sticks to that plan Winx will miss running in the Group 2 $500,000 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on September 30.
Winx has dominated betting again at Ladbrokes.com.au and is the very short $1.09 favourite for the George Main Stakes on Thursday morning with her nearest rival in the market order being the Pat Webster trained Happy Clapper at $12.