The second day of the 2019 Championships set the seal on an unprecedented career of perhaps Australia’s greatest racehorse: Winx.
The debate will rage on through the years as to her standing within the nations’ equine elite.
Though she didn’t go through her career unbeaten (unlike Black Caviar), nor did she take on the world’s best gallopers in other locations across the globe when the opportunity presented itself, she did leave behind a seriously awe-inspiring form guide:
Unbeaten in her last 34 starts, 25 of which were Group 1’s, and amassing earnings of over A$26 million throughout her career, the most of any racehorse in the history of horse racing.
Across the annals of time, she will be judged against some of the nation’s greatest ever horses.
Australia’s Best Race Horses?
Two of the best would still be Phar Lap and Tulloch.
Add to this in recent times, the likes of Black Caviar and Makybe Diva, Australian horse racing fans have been spoilt for choice since the year 2000.
it was a coincidence of epic proportions that Winx’s final race on Saturday would bring up trainer Chris Waller’s 100th Group 1 victory.
Surely the Racing Gods were looking down favourably that afternoon.
With her retirement now in play, there are so many questions both looking back at her career and what options lie ahead for her in the matriarch’s paddock.
Over the years, the mare and her connections have been savaged by the online trolls for not taking her abroad to test her true global worth.
We’ll never know the answer to that.
Best of The Best
Timeform ratings can only go so far, a match race between the best of the best is how it should be.
Was Cracksman really an equal rating of 130 on last year’s global assessment?
Northern and Southern Hemisphere experts would agree to disagree.
Therefore, I admire the connections of rising Japanese superstar Almond Eye, for stepping out beyond Japan’s shores and heading to France to take on British star Enable in the Prix D’larc de Triomphe in coming weeks.
This is what elite racing should be all about. The best of the best, racing each other.
By racing exclusively in Australia, Winx racked up a series of soft kills against moderately credentialed gallopers.
It might look good on paper and on the bottom line of the balance sheet, but serious pundits and punters can read between the form lines and the race results and come up with an alternate conclusion; one that isn’t complimentary.
To me, it is still the biggest enigma of her career, with so many ‘what if’s?’ raised.
My most endearing memory of her was the 2016 W. S Cox Plate on a wet and miserable Saturday afternoon.
Commentator Greg Miles called it a ‘Winx Blitz’ as she demolished the field by 8 lengths.
Then again, she’s had some close calls, like the 2018 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington, where she only just got up to win after being blocked for racing room.
You have to wind the clock back four years to the day, when she was defeated by another gun filly called Gust Of Wind, whose sails were truly exposed to the breeze as she raced away to win the 2015 ATC Australian Oaks in convincing fashion.
That would be Winx’s last defeat ever.
What’s Next for Australian Horse Racing?
So, what does this mean for the Australian horse racing industry?
42,000 punters turned up on Saturday, a bumper crowd, with most declaring years from now that they were there the day Winx had her last race.
Will 42,000 turn up next year? Hmm.
The Rain Gods were somewhere else thankfully, and the track improved during the day to be a Good 4.
A fitting occasion and an appropriate farewell.
Will her retirement mean that rich races will now be the target of lesser race horses?
Will this dilute the quality of our racing stock in Australia?
Will more overseas raiders turn up in droves expecting to walk away with the big prizes now that she’s not there?
All valid points, which we’ll know the answer to in the months ahead.
The connections will be hoping for a bonanza in the breeding barn, but the lack of success of her recent elite compatriots Black Caviar and Makybe Diva and their progeny on the track has been more than a trifle disappointing.
Hopefully it won’t be a three-peat.
I for one am glad that the Winx Parade has finally come to an end.
Now we can get on with some evenly contested races and maybe start looking forward to finding out who will be the next elite champion of the Australian turf.
Farewell to the champion Winx, may your paddock be full of lush green grass and bouncy bonny foals.
Enjoy your retirement.
You have given Australia so much over the years. Thank you for the privilege.