By Brad Gray
Foxplay whizzed past the Rosehill Gardens winning post in her final piece of work on Thursday morning moments before Winx. The duo then trotted off together back to their boxes. Their association doesn’t end there though.
The chalk-and-cheese duo, with Winx filling into her six-year-old bay frame while grey four-year-old mare Foxplay makes up for her lack of size with sheer determination, are stabled side-by-side at Chris Waller's Rosehill base.
“They listen to each other snore at night, share meals together, eat next to each other so they are pretty close,” said Waller.
“Since Winx’s second Cox Plate, Foxplay has been there. I guess Winx has sort of shown Foxplay the ropes and Foxplay has been good for Winx too.
“Foxplay is a very chilled out horse in the stable and that helps keep Winx nice and calm. On the track it is reversed somewhat as Winx is an absolute professional and Foxplay was the one that used to be a bit funny. They complement each other well and are two very good horses.”
The pairing has been by design with Waller, who collected his seventh straight Bart Cummings Medal, giving an insight into the finer details that are considered when running Sydney racing’s most successful stable.
“We handpick the horses that sit in and around Winx in a stable situation because I like a nice calm environment. That goes for all horses really but especially for those that are aiming up at big targets. It’s so important to keep them calm before a race so we try to have as little disruption as possible,” Waller said.
“We also know a horse like Foxplay is in for the spring whereas if you put a young horse in there they might have a trial then head to the paddock and the next thing you know you’ve got a new horse next to Winx.
“It just makes things that little bit harder and can be unsettling. They are the little things you go into when you are preparing a horse.”
Foxplay kicks off her campaign $250,000 Group Two Warwick Stakes (1400m) and although Winx will more than likely claim bragging rights when they bunk down again on Saturday night, Waller is hopeful that the Epsom Handicap is where the unassuming Group One winner will come into her own.
“She had a good break to allow her to recover from a pretty taxing three-year-old year. She has come back so much stronger and quite a bit heavier so I’m mindful about that first up but her big heart has certainly helped her out in a few of her wins,” Waller said.
“I wouldn’t be too concerned about the way she has been trialling and where she has been finishing because she certainly runs well ahead of what you’d expect.
“It’s a shame she has to take on Winx first up but the other option was carrying 60kg in the Show County and for a smaller horse, despite her being stronger, is still tough.”