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Bowman: This Is Winx’s Toughest Test

By Brad Gray
At Rosehill Gardens

Saturday’s $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) is Winx’s toughest test since her first Cox Plate. That’s the opinion of Hugh Bowman, who has ridden her in nineteen races since.

The rising seven-year-old stretched her legs on her home track, Rosehill Gardens, early on Thursday morning which was her final piece of work ahead of Day 2 of The Championships at Royal Randwick.

“On form alone it’s probably the hardest task she has had for quite some time and when I say that I mean a couple of years – probably her first Cox Plate. It’s going to be one hell of a race and all we want it a smooth passage,” Bowman revealed.

“Usually there is one main horse to be focused on as opposition but this week there is three or four or maybe even five that are primed for their target. They are over a suitable distance and racing in the form of their lives.

“If Gailo Chop is allowed to control things to his liking he will take some running down. If the pressure is right on he might be feeling the pinch from the 200-300m mark but if that’s the case a horse like Humidor or Ambitious, who I thought was very impressive in the Tancred Stakes, will be capitalising on the genuine pace.

“It is very important for me to judge the pace and have Winx close enough if they go slow but not too close if they go fast. I don’t want to overanalyse it but the bottom line is that there are horses there, no matter how it is run, that are going to perform very, very well.”

Winx has drawn barrier 10 for Saturday’s assignment, and although Bowman conceded it was better than 1, where she could potentially be cluttered up, the champion hoop suggested that ultimately, keeping Winx in her rhythm is more important than where she settles in the run.

“If I could have had my pick I would have chosen four to six, similar to last year but it is what it is,” Bowman said.

“The reason I ride her a little differently to most horses is that she has more of an engine than most horses. It comes down to judging the speed of the race and having her comfortable and if she’s comfortable, we’ve all seen what she is capable of doing. The quicker the race is run, the more comfortable it is for me because she relaxes very well.

“The more of a test it is, the better she performs because her cruising speed is so much higher than any other horse that I’ve ever had anything to do with. If they go fast from the outset it really plays into her hands. However, if they don’t go fast and it develops into a sprint home, she is capable of overcoming that too.”

Bowman, who has recovered from a virus and booted home a double at Warwick Farm on Wednesday, said “she feels every bit as good as she looks” at the moment.

“She’s in great order and I’m really happy with how she has come through the George Ryder win. Her work here on Tuesday morning was absolutely outstanding,” he said.

“I enjoy the morning trackwork the most because it’s a time when it’s just me and her. I can feel all the power. I get to let he extend herself and there is no pressure.”

Bowman even took the opportunity to snap a couple of photos of Winx for his own collection, joking with a large media gathering from all parts of the globe, that although he doesn’t rate himself much as a photographer she is a once in a lifetime horse.

The international television networks covering Winx and The Championships included At The Races, CNN, Equidia, TVG and the Korean Racing Channel, which is something not lost on trainer Chris Waller.

“It’s been close to three years since she started the winning streak… but since then she has captured the racing world, then the sporting world and now imagination of the general public. With that she has got overseas attention which we are very proud of,” Waller said.

Winx will equal the streak of Black Caviar if she brings up 25 straight on Saturday and Waller assured fans that he has no concerns over the likelihood of a firm track or her fitness levels tackling her autumn grand final third up.

”I’ve got her prepared for a really tough 2000m race,” Waller said.

“She has that air of arrogance on race day where she knows she can pick them up and whatever she puts her body through to be able to do it, she seems to be able to. She certainly knows what she is here for but is enjoying life. Her body language suggests she is a very happy horse.”

Full press conference which was live on @racing_nsw:

Check out the fields, form and replays for Day 2 of The Championships at Royal Randwick.

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