Mighty mare laps up challenge

Take a look at the latest TAB market for the Apollo Stakes.

Winx makes her return to racing this weekend. Hugh Bowman on Winx during Trackwork at Rosehill Racecourse. Pic Stephen Cooper

SYDNEY’S super mare Winx is chasing the shadow of the legendary Phar Lap at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Winx is rated a $1.12 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds to extend her celebrated winning streak to 14 in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m). If Winx is successful she will equal the longest winning sequence of the greatest of them all, Phar Lap.




Phar Lap won 14 in succession including his famous 1930 Melbourne Cup triumph in a six-months period during the 1930-31 racing season.

But Winx has swept her opposition aside during an unbeaten run that began nearly two years ago. She is now officially recognised as the best racehorse in the world on turf.

After watching Winx complete her preparation for the Apollo Stakes with a nice piece of work at Rosehill Gardens on Thursday morning, trainer Chris Waller revealed he doesn’t think too much about the records his champion mare seems to be creating every time she races these days.

Horse Racing: Winx will be looking for her 14th straight win in the Apollo Stakes.

But Waller was quick to point out that Winx has not earned her worldwide reputation by “fluking wins.”

“Winx is simply a very good horse and hopefully she can continue her winning sequence for a little longer,’’ Waller said. “Her preparation for the Apollo Stakes has been one of best one she has had. Everything has just been faultless. There’s been no rushing to get her back.

“She’s a bit stronger and a bit heavier but she’s come together very well and I couldn’t be happier with the way the preparation has gone.

“She is now not just my horse, the owner’s horse or Hugh Bowman’s horse, she is the general public’s. We are aware of that and try to keep things as simple as we can.”

Waller is conscious of the forecast for extremely hot conditions on Saturday which he described as “not perfect but very safe”.

Winx is in great shape for her autumn return in the Apollo Stakes. Picture: Stephen Cooper

Winx is in great shape for her autumn return in the Apollo Stakes. Picture: Stephen CooperSource:News Corp Australia

Winx’s regular rider Hugh Bowman put the great mare through her paces on Thursday morning and also believes she is going as well as ever.

“I think she has really progressed since her last trial,’’ Bowman said. “She worked really nicely here on Tuesday morning in company when she had her main gallop then and this morning she wasn’t asked to do quite as much but I’m really pleased with how she is feeling.”

Bowman, like Waller, also distanced himself from the growing pressure of being associated with a champion of Winx’s status.

“It’s certainly a high level of responsibility to do the right thing by the horse but that’s exactly how I cope with it,’’ Bowman said. “I think about her as the number one. Ultimately it’s up to her to perform all I can do is make sure she is in a position where she can do that. I just try to keep it simple and relay that message to myself.’’

Hartnell could pounce if luck against Winx

Brad Davidson

DANIEL O’Sullivan admits bad luck is Winx’s “greatest danger” in Saturday’s Apollo Stakes, but the professional punter hasn’t totally ruled out the chance of Hartnell knocking off the champion mare.

Winx is rated a $1.12 favourite to extend her winning streak to 14 at Randwick tomorrow and O’Sullivan, who runs betsmart.racing, feels she is not over the line.

“I find it hard to price her any shorter than $1.25, which is an 80 per cent winning chance,” O’Sullivan said. “Her greatest danger is most certainly bad luck.

“Next, the only horse that could possibly challenge her with the way this race looks likely to be run is Hartnell.

“I know she beat him eight lengths in the Cox Plate but that was an incredibly fast-run 2000m race (about as fast as you will see a race run) which became a test of talent over the total distance, especially stamina and that’s where Winx is truly world class. However, this is likely to be a slowly run 1400m race that will develop into a sprint home over the last 600m.”

O’Sullivan feels the different race shape gives Hartnell a knockout chance if everything goes his way. “Winx has an electric turn of foot but Hartnell is capable of getting very close to her figures over a 600m sprint,” O’Sullivan said.

“If he’s positioned ahead of Winx in the run and is ready to show that same sharp turn of foot we saw last preparation then he can really give her something to chase, especially if she’s held up on the inside at a vital time.

“All things being equal (including luck in the run) I expect Winx to win.’’