By Ray Hickson
Sydney’s west has never seen a race day like this.
Consider what’s on offer at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday – the world’s best racehorse and Australian racing icon Winx, the superstar three-year-old colt The Autumn Sun, dual winner of The Everest, Australia’s richest race, Redzel.
And the $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper Stakes – the world’s richest race for two-year-olds.
It’s heaven for racing fans and traditionalists and surely a big enough carrot to see Rosehill packed to the rafters with those curious about racing, and people swept up by the Winx phenomenon.
And as we get set to cheer Winx on to 32 straight wins, a fourth George Ryder Stakes, and 24 Group 1s as she continues to re-write the record books we have to remember this is her second last appearance. Ever.
It’s her last race at her home track of Rosehill, where a well deserved statue will be erected in the near future, the last time for residents of Sydney’s west to see her in their own back yard.
Not many horses attract applause for exhibition gallops but that’s what happens with Winx.
She’s virtually unbeatable, almost inhuman (if you can say that about a horse), a super hero.
Racing regulars will know every story, every run, every heartstopping moment. But if you’re a casual racegoer or are planning to bring a friend on Saturday here’s a quick fire guide to the racing royalty on show.
Who is Winx?
She’s a seven-year-old mare, winner of 35 of her 41 starts (you almost wonder how she was ever beaten) and she hasn’t tasted defeat since April of 2015. Her winning streak of 31 is unprecedented in Australian racing and she almost always looks like she’s doing it with ease.
Even her trainer Chris Waller and jockey Hugh Bowman marvel at what she can do. As Bowman said after her latest win in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick – “she’s just an amazing athlete, there are really no more words to describe her’’.
Winx is something to behold. She has her own hashtag too - #GoWinx.
Who is The Autumn Sun?
He’s a colt, a young man who has proven himself to be the best of the boys of his generation. His last two wins have been Winx-like, heartstopping surges from the back overcoming impossible odds.
After one such win in the Hobartville Stakes his trainer Chris Waller – yes he trains this excitement machine too – said racing needs horses like him. Rising stars to complement the champion.
“He’s the next Australian star and I can only tell you how good he is,’’ Waller said after his Randwick Guineas win earlier this month.
This three-year-old has only been beaten once in eight starts and on Saturday he’ll be having his first attempt at 2000m.
The Autumn Sun... you'll want to watch this a few times
Who is Redzel?
There have only been two editions of the world’s richest sprint race, The Everest, to date and Redzel has won both of them before huge crowds at Randwick.
A tough six-year-old gelding, we’ll likely see him line up in The Galaxy. It’s Rosehill’s feature handicap sprint and Saturday will be the first time Big Red has raced there since he was beaten a small margin in the same race in 2017.
A bit has changed since then, he’s won almost $15.5 million in prizemoney and to win The Galaxy he’ll have to show all his class carrying the top weight in the 1100m race.
He has a horde of excitable owners in Redzel’s distinctive red colours and when he wins, you know all about it.
What is the Golden Slipper?
Sixteen two-year-olds, 1200m, $3.5 million. It’s about 70 seconds of sheer speed, precocity and can make careers beyond the racecourse for the winner.
It’s a race where plumbers and school teachers can beat Sheikhs and millionaires, where a $20,000 horse can best a $2 million buy. It’s where dreams are made for owners, trainers and jockeys equally. It’s a highlight in itself.
Hands down this will be the biggest racing event in Sydney’s west, the stars don’t align like this often and it serves as an awesome preview to The Championships at Randwick on the first two Saturdays in April where we'll give Winx the biggest send-off possible.
Winx, The Autumn Sun, Redzel, the Golden Slipper, the Ranvet Stakes featuring the local debut of international raider He’s Eminent, Aussie rock legend Jimmy Barnes playing after the last.
It’s quite a day! What more do you need?