By Ray Hickson
It's the news all racing fans wanted to hear!
Winx has been given the green light by trainer Chris Waller and her owners to commence an autumn preparation but are making no commitments about her campaign other than it will likely be exclusively in Sydney.
In a statement Waller said he expects Winx to follow a similar path to previous years, commencing in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) on February 16 and is again using the ‘one race at a time’ line.
It’s a welcome boost to Sydney’s autumn carnival that, all being well, Winx will be given the chance to claim the showpiece race of The Championships, the Group 1 $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m), a third successive year.
“She has nothing left to prove to us or her many followers and we are under no illusion that she is getting a little older,’’ Waller said.
“However, she is in excellent condition both physically and mentally and had she not pleased us in any area of her wellbeing or mental state she would have been retired immediately.
“This is not to say that it may not happen before her first run of her preparation, after her first run or if at any stage where we are not happy with any aspect of her training or physical state.
“If she did manage to get through a four race preparation it would most likely culminate in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick.
— Chris Waller Racing (@cwallerracing) December 20, 2018
"I must stress to everyone that it shouldn’t be assumed she will be there, it will be a race by race assessment."
In the 2018 autumn Winx only started three times, due to jockey Hugh Bowman’s suspension around Apollo Stakes time, winning the Chipping Norton first-up then the George Ryder and the Queen Elizabeth.
Winx returned to Waller’s Rosehill stable on December 14 following her usual pre-training routine.
The champion seven-year-old of course is on a run of 29 straight wins, including 22 Group 1s, and was last seen winning her fourth Cox Plate.
There’s plenty of history for Winx to achieve in the Sydney autumn as she aims to join Tie The Knot by winning four Chipping Norton Stakes on end and she’ll be the first to make it four straight George Ryder Stakes in what would be her only start on her home track this season.
Waller said he prefers to keep things simple with Winx and has basically ruled out interstate or international travel for the 2019 autumn, a campaign expected to be her last.
It's normal practice for Waller to trial Winx at least twice prior to her first-up run so expect to see her stepping out for her first trial in late January.
“Each race is important for its own reason and we fully appreciate all of the support that she has had throughout her career,’’ he said.
“For her to be racing in the form that she is whilst remaining in such good health is a credit to the owners, Hugh Bowman, and other riders that have ridden her, and most importantly the staff at Chris Waller Racing.’’
If Winx does complete the expected four-start autumn campaign it will set up an unforgettable likely swansong on Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day, the second day of The Championships, at Randwick on April 13.
The Australian Turf Club has announced plans for a statue of Winx to be built at her home track Rosehill in the new year.