By Ray Hickson
You’d think after 33 wins – 29 of them in a row – it’d be a piece of cake for Winx’s owners.
Not so. At least as far as Debbie Kepitis is concerned.
As a member of the Ingham family, horse racing is in her blood but Kepitis said it doesn’t matter how many horses you own, whether they are maidens or champions, for her the whole experience is a rollercoaster.
Winx begins her 11th racing preparation – an amazing achievement in itself – in Saturday’s Group 2 $250,000 The Star Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick.
Kepitis will be there, along with Peter and Patty Tighe and Richard Treweeke's family, in the same outfit she’s worn to just about every Winx race day.
And the crowd will expect her to win again – 30 straight. Kepitis probably expects her to win too but she’d never say it, let alone think it, and she’d never take it for granted.
“It doesn’t get any easier,’’ she said.
“The same fears are there, the same joys are there. It doesn’t change.
“She astounds you that she is still as good as always.’’
There’s every sign in Winx’s two barrier trials and her public exhibition gallop at Randwick last Saturday that she is every bit the Winx we know and love.
And when was the last time a racehorse was applauded for winning a two horse contest at 8am on a Saturday morning? It’s a measure of her greatness that fans were willing to trek into the city to get up close and personal with the horse, owners and trainer.
Winx will be at unbackable odds once again - $1.12 with TAB on Monday after the Apollo nominations were taken.
“With her I don’t think it is about backing her it’s about the amazement of what she can do as a rising eight-year-old,’’ Kepitis said.
It’s widely expected that Winx’s autumn campaign will be her last – and for Kepitis it means facing the demon that is a Queen Elizabeth Stakes swansong.
If you don’t know why that is, look up the names Octagonal and Lonhro and that will tell you the story.
Time will catch up with Winx at some stage but she seems ageless at the moment.
“Please come and see her, she’s awesome”
That’s the message from @DKepitis, one of @winx_horse’s owners - be at @royalrandwick on Saturday to cheer on the champ to 30 straight wins in the Apollo Stakes. @tabcomau @7horseracing @RandwickCouncil @wwos @barryofarrell pic.twitter.com/qO4g2azfDx
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) February 11, 2019
It’s something trainer Chris Waller is acutely aware of and he outlined a few warning signs that might tell him Winx doesn’t want to race any more – but stressed he hasn’t seen any of them yet.
“You’re looking for them being a little bit grumpy, everything you’re seeing in a person that’s not happy in their workplace or in their sport,’’ Waller said.
“If they are on their toes and eager to get out there like she is that’s what we are looking for.’’
Waller has always stressed Winx’s campaign is one race at a time.
With that in mind every race could be her last, so every race she has is your last opportunity to witness an equine legend.