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25 Sep 2017
Issue Number: Issue 620
5 Minutes with Dane O’Neill
Birkett looking forward to Abu Dhabi
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Imperfect scenarios cannot derail the mighty Winx


AUSTRALIA’s star mare, Winx, has been relatively busy since the last issue of Al Adiyat, winning three times, twice having to overcome unpromising situations. Initially, the 6yo daughter of Street Cry stretched her unbeaten run to 18 with a narrow victory in a thrilling Group 2 Warwick Stakes. However, that sequence was very much in the balance after she missed the break by lengths and turned into the home straight last.

However, ‘coolness personified’ jockey Hugh Bowman did not panic, easing Winx to the outside before passing rivals one by one, heading stablemate Foxplay in the final strides to win by a head. Bowman said: “I was worried at halfway but I had to have confidence in her engine. She’s so much better than them and I had to rely on that. She’s just a freak. “It’s been an amazing journey with a few more chapters to come. To win from the position she was in, she’s better than ever.”

In securing consecutive wins in the Warwick Stakes, Winx joined 1930s sensation Ajax on 18 consecutive victories, leaving her seven short of Black Caviar, who holds the record for the country’s longest winning streak, and one success behind Gloaming and Desert Gold. Trainer Chris Waller added: “Hugh never panicked. It’s a massive help when you have the right man behind the reins.” That was at Randwick and a fortnight later she was back there to make it 19 on the bounce in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes.

Turning for home, into the short straight, she appeared the best part of ten lengths behind runaway leader Red Excitement who had the other ten in the race beaten. That left Winx to further cement her status as a worldwide legend by mowing him down, only in the final stages but, ultimately, crossing the line on the bridle after a relentless surge for the post. Again, Bowman refused to panic at any stage with the pair making up about five lengths from just outside the furlong marker from where Winx thundered home to delight the crowd.

A seemingly relieved Bowman explained: “I wasn’t worried last start but today I really was. When she hit the afterburners, well, I can’t explain the feeling.” Trainer Waller confessed to doubts of his own and added: “With two furlongs to run I was more concerned today than first up. I thought she was going to get there quite easy first up but it is hard to gauge when you have a horse free rolling like that. “She hasn’t had a soft sectional but credit to the second horse, Red Excitement.

They turned the race on, I guess tried to break us up, so it was very exciting.” Last weekend she returned to Randwick for the Group 1 George Main Stakes over a mile. Again she was slowly away and, on the back straight, Bowman was shaking the reins at her. They went wide on the turn before swooping down the outside, leading inside the final furlong and asserting. She’s done it again, she’s a delight to be a part of,” Bowman said. “She’s such a magical horse.”

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