By Greg Prichard
She’s back. She won. And she’s fine.
So the Winx love-in continues after her brilliant first-up win in The Star Sydney Apollo Stakes over 1400m at Randwick on Saturday and that’s all most people need to know.
Hopefully it continues right through to the end of her last campaign with three more successes in WFA races culminating in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in eight weeks.
The seven-year-old wonder mare looked as calm as can be in stall 108 before emerging for the race and while a couple of her rivals were a bit jittery as they walked on to the course Winx entered as if she didn’t have a care in the world.
She was straight into a gallop for Hugh Bowman around to the barriers and once the race began she settled into the second half of the eight-horse field before moving to the centre of the track at the top of the straight and going through the gears.
Winx does it again at Royal Randwick
The rest was another piece of history as she hit the line two-and-a-quarter lengths in front of Happy Clapper to record her 30th straight win.
It was another fast sectional from Winx to finish the race off, her last 600m coming in 33.02 seconds. Not her quickest, but she didn’t have to go any quicker on the day. She was just too good for them.
As a U2 classic from the early 1990s – Even Better Than The Real Thing – belted out over the course amplifiers, Winx returned to rapturous applause from the crowd of 15,330 that had roared with delight as she raced away in the straight.
Trainer Chris Waller was as sure as he possibly could be about her preparation, but the first-up run is always the most nervous for him and he was breathing a lot easier after she rang up number one.
“Just a sense of relief,” an emotional Waller said, when asked how he felt.
“It’s quite unbelievable. We got a glimpse of it with Black Caviar of course, she set the scene in recent years, with Makybe Diva, and now Winx is following on from them.
“That it is indescribable for any sport, and for racing. It’s exactly what we need and why the sport is so great.”
Jockey Hugh Bowman said he was happy with how Winx had travelled in the race as he made sure she didn’t get too far behind main rival Happy Clapper.
“The pace of the race was very even, which suited us,” he said. “I had to niggle her to hold her position closer than I normally would over a bit further, especially when I could see the path that Sam (Clipperton) was plotting on Happy Clapper.
“That was out of pure respect for that horse's ability. We needed to be within striking distance. But as the race unfolded, we settled into a lovely rhythm as we always do.
Is there a better sight than this? Winx in full flight #GoWinx
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) February 16, 2019
“It was a pretty comfortable race for me and it was pretty comfortable for Winx too.”
Part-owner Peter Tighe said he was happy Winx had delivered again for the racing public as much for the connections.
“The law of averages is she should be beaten (at some stage), she should have some bad luck,” Tighe said. “But when she has bad luck, she has overcome it, she has won. She continues on and she is a marvel.
“We’re just happy that everyone's here and they are enjoying her as much as we are. Not only here, but around Australia, around the world.”
Next stop for Winx, the WFA Chipping Norton Stakes over 1600m at Randwick in two weeks.
You’d be mad to miss it.