March 27, 2023

Winx breezes to unprecedented fourth Cox Plate

Winx remains invincible as she begins her final campaign (Photo by Steve Hart via Sky Racing World)

Supermare Winx held sway in the Cox Plate (G1) for an unprecedented fourth time on Saturday, turning Australia’s weight-for-age championship into an exhibition. With perfect assists from her human team, led by trainer Chris Waller and jockey Hugh Bowman, the world’s highest-rated horse flaunted her superiority to extend her winning streak to 29.

The throngs on the scene at Moonee Valley, and fans tuned in from around the world, did not have a moment’s suspense. Winx’s stablemate, D’Argento, seized the initiative from the European shippers, Godolphin’s Benbatl and Aidan O’Brien’s Rostropovich, and led the way early.

Jockey Ryan Moore on Rostropovich, who was prepping for the Melbourne Cup (G1), then moved his mount forward to engage D’Argento down the backstretch, and the tempo increased. Rostropovich headed his pace rival on the far turn, but already under pressure. Benbatl was likewise being driven on as he launched his bid.

In contrast, Winx was cruising on the bridle, in tandem with Benbatl and widest of all. Benbatl tried his best while passing the laboring pacesetters, but he could not live with the “queen of the Valley.”

Cantering all over them under a hand ride, Winx dispatched Benbatl with contemptuous ease and pulled two lengths clear. Her final time of 2:03.47 wasn’t far off her 2,040-meter track record of 2:02.94 from last year’s Cox Plate. Winx’s first two Cox Plates also involved records. The Street Cry mare set a course mark in 2015, and in 2016, she established a record winning margin of eight lengths.

Winx’s fourth Plate in itself is a record, surpassing the legendary Kingston Town’s three-peat (1980-82).

Benbatl was best of the rest by 2 3/4 lengths from late-running Humidor, last year’s runner-up. Avilius checked in fourth, and Rostropovich, D’Argento, and Savvy Coup rounded out the order of finish. Kings Will Dream, who was pulled up early, was reportedly sent to Ballarat Veterinary Clinic with lameness in his left hind.