By Greg Prichard
Winx’s relentless progess in training since her most recent win convinced trainer Chris Waller the 1500m of The Agency George Ryder Stakes was all she needed heading towards her “grand final”.
The champion’s dominance is such that she will be likely face another small field in the $1 million race at Rosehill on Saturday as she gears up for her farewell in the $4 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m at Randwick on April 13.
Waller had originally given fleeting thought to running her in the 2000m Ranvet Stakes, but after her exhibition gallop at Rosehill on Saturday he confirmed there was simply no need.
“That’s Winx, whatever you want to run her in, whether it had been the Ranvet, whether it had been ... whatever, it’s Winx,” Waller said.
“So in the spring we go 2000 (Turnbull Stakes) into a 2000 (WS Cox Plate), in the autumn we go 1500 into 2000, yeah.”
Winx’s adaptability, whether it be to changing distances or track conditions, or the way a race is run on the day, is obviously one of her greatest strengths.
She looked every bit a powerhouse in the track gallop, even though jockey Kerrin McEvoy made sure she didn’t overdo it.
McEvoy said he felt likes his arms had been stretched three or four inches longer from trying to hold her when she wanted to go faster.
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What remains now is to see how many horses opposition trainers are willing to send around against her in the Ryder.
Waller, who provided the bulk of the opposition in each of her first two wins this campaign, said he was planning to nominate only Ringerdingding and Shillelagh.
The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Land Of Plenty is also expected to be among the nominations after being scratched from Rosehill on Saturday.
Winx beat five horses to win last year’s Ryder. She has gone from the Ryder to each of her two Queen Elizabeth wins. Waller said that halfway through this campaign she was exactly where he wanted her to be.
“With Winx we know the acceleration’s there and we know she’s come back very well and you’re just making sure that she’s safe and set for another couple of runs,” he said.
“One run at a time still, but obviously we know the Queen Elizabeth is there.”
Waller said he liked the idea of an exhibition in front of a race-day crowd at some stage of three-week gaps between races because it “brings her back down to earth”.
“It just seems to fit in well and it makes my job a lot easier, I know,” he said.
The emotion of being so closely involved with one of the all-time great racehorses is never far away from Waller.
He had choked up while being interviewed on-stage at a business of racing luncheon on Friday, after a series of her wins was replayed.
Asked after the exhibition gallop if there was any particular significance related to the Ryder being her last run at her home course, Waller replied: “None to me. There’s so much other, so many other things to focus on, and, yeah. Now you’re trying to get me to cry.
“We get to work with Winx and I don’t really get the chance to sit back and reflect on Winx. I got emotional because of seeing half of her wins, yeah, so that’s Winx.”