By Ray Hickson
The slight change-up in Winx’s spring preparation has been designed by trainer Chris Waller to have her close to bulletproof for her first-up assignment in the race recently renamed after her.
That’s the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m), formerly Warwick Stakes, at Royal Randwick on August 18.
It’s not normal practice for Waller to send Winx around in a race day gallop prior to her final barrier trial but that’s what the champion trainer has done and it seems the world’s best racehorse is responding.
Winx received a rave review from both Waller and jockey Hugh Bowman after she finished a close third in her 1000m trial behind Group 1 winners Alizee and Ace High at Rosehill on Tuesday.
Waller said the preparation has been faultless and despite now being a seven-year-old she’s in outstanding order.
Winx closes into third behind Alizee in her Rosehill trial on Tuesday
“This preparation (first-up) over 1400m it’s a Group 1 race so we’ve made sure she’s ready to go,’’ Waller said.
“It’s an important race for her, named in her honour, and we’ve said from the start we’ll take one race at a time.’’
Waller said the exhibition gallop on Saturday was to allow Winx to burn off some nervous energy, take in the new surrounds in the tie-up stalls and have a day out.
He said he’s hoping the Randwick track does receive some rain between now and August 18 but dismissed any concern about Winx returning on a good track.
Jockey Hugh Bowman took most of the media by surprise with his comments about just how well Winx felt in her gallop.
“She’s ready to go to the races now. She felt as good as she looked,’’ Bowman said.
“I would suggest that’s as good as she has ever trialled.
“I was very impressed with her, I asked her to do a bit more than in her first trial.
“She was more relaxed and I think that was a direct result of going to the races and having that exhibition gallop on Saturday.’’
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) August 6, 2018
The champ was first into the stalls and was a shade slow into stride, settling last, and Bowman did give her a small niggle to pick up ground but once he pushed the button the response was immediate.
Bowman said from where he sits Winx, who will chase 26 straight wins on August 18, is going at least as well as she was when we last saw her race.
“It’s there for everyone to see,’’ he said.
“When she got to the races on Saturday and that atmosphere she took advantage of being in the public eye and I could barely hold her.
“She’s in a good spot and I’m excited about her return in just over a week’s time.’’
Winx is rated a $1.10 chance with TAB to take out the Group 1 Winx Stakes.