The six-year-old notched her 22nd victory in a row with jockey Hugh Bowman delivering yet another stellar ride atop the crown jewel of Australian racing, with a narrow win over a gallant Humidor, who came close to running down the champ, and Folkswood back in third.
Trainer Chris Waller this week described the race as Winx’s “Grand Final” and she delivered the equivalent of two-point victory kicking against the breeze in front of a sold-out Moonee Valley crowd that hung on her every stride.
The victory capped three brilliant victories at the Valley for the mare, who takes her total career prize money to more than $15 million, with Bowman having piloted her to all three Cox Plate honours.
Winning jockey Hugh Bowman said afterwards: “I just can’t explain, really. It has been such a build up and they said when we won last year nothing can prepare you for what you are in for next year. And he was right. I am lost for words.
“She has just made history. I was born the year that Kingston Town won his first Cox Plate and to think that she has emulated the great, you know, and ... And you know trying to compare one horse to another, they are always different animals at the end of the day, be but we are in the presence of greatness as you said.
“She will be recognised as one of the greatest horses to grace the Australian turf and to be a part of her career, I can’t explain how much that means. She is the type of horse that you dream of. Everyone dreams of a horse like this.”
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Co-owner Peter Tighe said after the triumph: “Everything fell into place. The planning of Chris Waller was exceptional again and she has proved how great she is and we have grateful that we own her and grateful that she races here in Australia. It is all surreal. We are are just going through the motions at the moment. We will appreciate it later but at the moment we will just celebrate it.”
Waller acknowledged it was a tight finish as she fought the fast-finishing Humdor.
“You never know what is going to happen on a racetrack and it was great to see her moving forward in that normal style, but gee, Humidor gave us a hell of a fight.
“Fortunately we got the upper hand and yeah, well done to the connections of all runners. They have run second to a very good horse.
Humidor loomed at the 150m and for a few strides looked as though he may pass Winx.
“I am not saying she could have won by any further. Full credit to Humidor, he has shown he is a top-class horse and a worthy contender. Full credit to Humidor and as surprising as it was to see him there, I wasn’t concerned that we were going to be beaten.
“You don’t expect, with any horse, to win 22 races in a row. So along that sequence I have never gone into a race saying we will win today, because you always have to respect what happens on a racetrack. I am pleased she has done it for the crowd and most importantly the horse.”
Waller just knew she was primed for a great performance when he saw her this morning.
Winx was a picture of health and strength, he said, and that was when he knew the pressure was off ahead of a shot at a third consecutive Cox Plate.
“Up until this morning ... it’s been intense,” he said, choking up. “This morning when I saw her, she was picture perfect. That’s when the pressure stopped.”
Waller said the victory is “a huge relief” that he didn’t have the training under his belt for.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever been involved in, and may not get that opportunity again. I’ve got to take it in, but I’ve got to enjoy it and appreciate it as well.”
As Darren Weir’s Humidor surged on the straight, endless questions streamed through Waller’s head.
“It was just ‘will she? Won’t she?’, and ‘where’s the post? How’s the other horse going? What is the other horse?’.
“I’ve got Winx. We’ll be right. We got there. It’s as simple as that.”