Winx, Australia’s top champion racehorse, stretched her winning run to 14 races when she claimed her second Apollo Stakes victory on Monday, in doing so equaling a record set by the legendary Phar Lap, set in the late twenties.
It was her first race in four months, since winning the William Hill Cox Plate in October, and yet there was no sign of rustiness.
On Saturday, Racing NSW and the Australian Turf club had made the unprecedented move to postpone the Apollo Stakes, as Randwick baked in an oppressive heatwave. With highs of 38℃ expected, it was decided that animal welfare and the safety of participants would be the primary concern, despite the financial loss.
“The ATC want to ensure that horses’ preparation for the Autumn carnival are not affected and, accordingly, the meeting will be programmed for Monday, 13 February 2017,” commented ATC Chief Executive, Darren Pearce.
Sydney Knocks Off
The rescheduling of the race prompted the Huffington Post to observe that “half of Sydney is knocking off work early this Monday to drink and gamble,” so enthused were Sydney-siders by the chance to catch a glimpse of the greatest Australian racehorse in a generation.
Could Winx even be the greatest ever, some of us wondered. The conversations have, at least, started already. But she’s still got some way to go to match the longest win streak by an Australian-based horse in major racing of 25, which is held by Black Caviar.
Winx, who was a massive favourite at $1.14, got off to a fine start, but, as trainer Chris Waller told the Daily Telegraph, it wasn’t always smooth running for the thoroughbred.
“When the sprint went on at the 600 (metres) she was left flat-footed for about four strides and it was foreign land for me because she just does it for me all the time,” he said.
Can She Be Beaten?
Winx recovered her composure to make light work of the field, beating the second-placed horse, Hartnell ($12), by two and three-quarter lengths. Endless Drama ($26), also trained by Waller, came in third, four lengths behind.
It wasn’t quite as emphatic a win as the Cox Plate in October, when Winx bested Hartnell into into second by a memorable full eight lengths, but it was good enough.
Can Wink ever be beaten? Waller says maybe, but probably only by bad luck.
“It’s going to take a champion to beat her or it’s going to take her to fail to get beaten,” he said. “We’ll be hoping for those two things to stay away and she’ll continue on winning.”