Already, her name is being uttered alongside those of Phar Lap and Black Caviar, and as she stormed to yet another victory at Rosehill Gardens last week, the question yet again reared its head.
A foregone conclusion?
There was an air of inevitability as jockey Hugh Bowman guided Winx to her 24th Group One win to collect the George Ryder Stakes for the fourth time. She is a horse that has captured the collective heart of Horse Racing Australia, and after crossing the line, she was welcomed into the winner’s enclosure with adoring cries of “Winxy, Winxy!”
Odds of 1/17 on tell you everything you need to know about the bookmakers’ views on this race. “Foregone conclusion” is a phrase that is sometimes overused in sport, but surely here, it was entirely appropriate.
Going into the final 300 metres, Winx and Bowman were trailing the field, and if it had been any other horse and rider, the spectators might have wondered if they had left their charge too late. But this is no ordinary horse. They made their move with confidence and assurance, sweeping round the outside and crossing the line more than three lengths clear of second placed Brutal.
One last hurrah
If the rumours are to be believed, Winx’s next outing, at Royal Randwick on 13 April in the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes, will be her swan song. Again, she will go into the race looking to defend her title and again, the bookmakers have her as the overwhelming favourite. Bookmakers across the board are offering 1/10 on, while the best of the rest is 7/10 shot The Autumn Sun.
Racing officials have spoken openly about their wish to lure Winx back down to Melbourne in spring for a shot at what would be an incredible fifth Cox Plate. However, her owners and trainers have shown no sign that they are tempted. If all plays out to form, the seven year old will win her 33rd straight race and head straight into a well-deserved retirement.
By the numbers
Winx’s extraordinary winning streak began almost four years ago on 16 May 2015. Since then, her domination of Australian horse racing has been unprecedented, as the following numbers demonstrate:
- 32 consecutive wins
- 24 Group One wins
- A hat trick of four-peat Group One wins (George Ryder Stakes, Cox Plate, Chipping Norton Stakes)
- Career prize money of $23.5 million
So where does that place Winx in comparison with those other greats? As every movie-goer knows, Phar Lap was taken from us in his prime, and was still only five years old when he died. We can only surmise how many more victories he might have added to his tally of 24 major wins, but respected sports presenter Bruce McAvaney went on the record to say “Winx is up there with Phar Lap.”
A better comparison is perhaps with Black Caviar and this has been described at the horse racing equivalent of Michael Jordan vs LeBron James. On paper, however, the answer is clear. Winx’s 24 Group One wins eclipse Black Caviar’s 15, while her career earnings are almost three times higher and counting.