By Brad Gray
At Royal Randwick
Michael Jordan, Shane Warne, Lebron James, David Beckham... the number 23 is one generally reserved for champions.
Wonder mare Winx certainly isn't out of place when mentioned in that company having brought up 23 straight wins in taking out the $600,000 G1 TAB Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick, also surpassing Black Caviar’s 15 Group One wins, a record in Australia.
It was simply a matter of how far for Winx at the 600m mark when she loomed up under Hugh Bowman’s grip.
Winx was on a another level to her rivals
“I feel it at trackwork but because there are no horses around me, it’s hard to get a sense of just how much she is quickening,” said Bowman, “It was like I was in the middle on the track, all on my own, me and her with 20,000 people enjoying it.”
“I enjoyed it today I was very comfortable going into the race. She pulled a bit at the start and some of her better performances have been when she has done that. What can I say, it’s there for everyone to see.”
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) March 3, 2018
As we’re accustomed to seeing now, Winx wasn’t quick into stride and despite a momentary murmur cutting through the cheers of the crowd, it didn't worry Bowman who knew the engine he had under him.
“We’ve learnt how to manage her in the gates, she is a bit more settled but there is no doubt that is the time when things can go wrong,” he said.
“It’s not so much that she is slow to jump she is just a bit sluggish into stride, which didn’t concern me because I know she has got the gears at the end.”
The rising seven-year-old is certainty showing no signs of slowing down and is going as well as ever according to Bowman.
“She just doesn’t like form tracks, she’ll still perform but it’s clear in her action with cut in the ground.”
Punters' Intel tells the story of Winx's dominance
— Brad Gray (@BradJGray) March 3, 2018
The result may have been a formality at the point of acceptances on Wednesday but each of her wins still hold a special place for an emotional Chris Waller.
“To see her come back like this is pretty special. She is a great horse and come back so well her attitude is fantastic. She is better now than she was as a four-year-old and not much has changed since. She knows her job, enjoys her job and going home to just be another horse,” said Waller, fighting back the tears.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s a real privilege to be representing our sport.”
Next stop for Winx is the G1 George Ryder Stakes on Golden Slipper day and Waller fired an ominous warning shot to her rivals.
“We’ve got a few lengths up our sleeve and the 1500m second up is no concern in three weeks’ time. Who knows what happens after that…”