By Ray Hickson
At Rosehill Gardens
Will Winx make her return, as expected, in the Apollo Stakes at Randwick on Saturday week?
It’s the question that lingers after trainer Chris Waller left some doubt, following her pleasing fifth in a 1000m trial on Monday, as to when and where the champion will kick off her autumn preparation.
Since Winx’s jockey Hugh Bowman was suspended on consecutive days at Warwick Farm and in New Zealand just over a week ago Waller has played the line that Bowman being unavailable was something they’ve always considered.
Now, with her return imminent, Waller said the result of Bowman’s appeals – the first of which will be known today - will have an impact.
“After the appeal we will have a better indication of what’s happening,’’ Waller said.
Redzel wins a star studded Rosehill trial with Winx finishing in fifth place
“We are still two weeks away from her planned first-up run, being the Apollo, but if we need to make changes we will do that when we are required to do so.
“We won’t miss races if it will affect the end result which are the bigger targets ahead.
“Does she need to race in the Apollo? Are there bigger targets? She doesn’t have to race every week, we’ve seen before she races well fresh and you can space her races.
“When you have a horse like Winx we can take into consideration do we need to risk other jockeys riding.’’
You might think a jockey doesn't make that much difference but when it comes to Winx, with a winning streak stretching 22 starts and 15 Group 1s, Waller seems reluctant to break up a partnership that has endeared itself to racing fans and the wider public.
Waller seemed to indicate the most likely Plan B, should Bowman be unavailable and the Apollo is ruled out, would be to resume in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) on March 3.
“There’s lots of options. We don’t want to make things too difficult,’’ he said.
“Going to Melbourne for the Futurity (on February 24) is a possibility, it’s unlikely but a possibility. We could go first-up in the Chipping Norton, of course the Apollo with a different rider if required.
“To break the partnership up would be a little different and hard to quantify how it would affect her. Who knows, she might go faster.’’
Conjecture aside, both Waller and Bowman gave Winx the seal of approval after she ran fifth behind Everest champion Redzel in the 1000m trial.
Redzel won the star studded gallop by three lengths and after a slightly slow beginning Bowman parked Winx in the first half and resisted the urge to ask her to chase the super sprinter.
Flight Stakes winner Alizee finished runner-up in the trial ahead of Classic Uniform and Deploy. Winx’s stablemates Egg Tart and Foxplay had easy trials and finished at the rear.
The superstar of Australian racing. Winx! pic.twitter.com/OGMOt1vo9J
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) February 4, 2018
“She seemed a little more alert this morning,’’ Bowman said.
“I think she just knows it’s not the day to be really attacking the other horses. I was doing enough to make sure she stayed in touch, I’m sure if I’d have laid into her she would have responded.
“Having been through the process so often now, I’m satisfied come game day she will be right to go.’’
Waller said should the Apollo be Winx’s first-up run and Bowman isn’t available the lucky rider will likely come from those that already ride for the stable on a regular basis.
He said as far as the six-year-old’s condition goes he couldn’t be happier and now the wait begins before he locks in her program.
“Fortunately she’s a pretty straightforward horse to train,’’ Waller said.
“I go with common sense. The horse comes first, find the races second and hopefully she can continue on this winning dream we are currently experiencing.
“We will have a look after today with Hugh Bowman’s appeal. I’ll put some names forward, I’ll obviously speak to Hugh Bowman but hopefully we don’t have to worry about that.’’