By Greg Prichard
Chris Waller readily admitted he was more nervous thinking about Winx in The Agency George Ryder Stakes than Yes Yes Yes in the Longines Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday.
Not that there’s anything wrong with Winx.
She looked perfect in her final track gallop at Rosehill on Thursday morning. “Amazing” was how jockey Hugh Bowman described her.
Rather, it’s the responsibility of trying to ensure the best horse in the land - in the world – gets through another race unscathed and hopefully with another win next to her name that naturally weighs heavily on the trainer.
Waller knows he’s done everything right with Winx in preparation, but he’s also mindful anything can happen once the horses get out there and compete.
So the Slipper might be worth $3.5 million in prizemoney compared to the $1 million of the Ryder, but just the fact Winx is racing means she’s going to grab a huge slice of the spotlight regardless.
Asked what churned his stomach more, chasing what would be his first Slipper win or getting the wonder mare home first again, Waller replied: “Winx. No reason to be though, she’s fine, but it’s just to make sure that everybody gets to see see Winx for the right reason.
“We’re making sure there’s never a stone unturned and it’s just trouble free. She does put the intensity of your training or riding to a different level.
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) March 20, 2019
“Hugh’s just got back from winning the biggest race in Hong Kong and I’m sure he got huge satisfaction out of that, but I know his thoughts will be on Winx as well. That’s just how she’s taken over our lives, but we’ve learnt to deal with it over the last few years.
“Look, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but Winx only has to hold her position, where she’s been the last 10 or 20 starts, let alone 30 starts.
"You’ve always got to respect luck in running and it’s a sport so there’s always challenges, but she’s picture perfect and ready to go.”
Waller talked about Winx’s place among the all-time greats as her career neared the end.
All things being well, she will go from the Ryder to the $4 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m at Randwick on April 13 and then it will all be over.
“It’s got to be a good thing for racing,” he said of the spotlight on her.
“Everyone still knows the Golden Slipper and I think most importantly there are stars racing and that’s what the public wants to come and see, or watch at home, or read about in the newspapers.
“So I think racing’s certainly in a great position through having champions like Phar Lap, like your Kingston Towns, Black Caviars.
"You name it, there have been lots of great horses through the eras and Winx is doing her job at the moment.”
Bowman said Winx did her final workout on her ear.
“She’s in great order,” he said. “She wasn’t out there to do a whole lot, it was a pretty easy gallop for her, but she’s strong and what I really enjoyed was after the winning post her enthusiasm going over the crossing there at the 1800-metre mark.
“That’s very consistent of her doing that sort of work and I mean there’s really not much more to say. We’re looking forward to the race.”