February 27, 2024

Winx goes to Town in Cox Plate three-peat

Winx broke her own course record when rebuffing Humidor for her third Cox Plate victory (Photo courtesy of Racing Victoria via Twitter)

The Australian equine marvel known as Winx duly won her third Cox Plate (G1) at Moonee Valley on Saturday, inscribing her name alongside another all-time great, Kingston Town (1980-82), and extending her winning streak to 22. But unlike her romps around The Valley the past two years, this time, she had to display her grit and determination as she parried the late thrust of Humidor by a half-length.

While it was a case of close but no cigar for Humidor, he’ll go down in history for forcing Winx to break her own track record. Her finding a bit extra propelled her across the line in 2:02.94 for 2,040 meters, shaving .04 from the mark she’d set in the 2015 Cox Plate.

Amazingly, Winx established records throughout her Plate trio. Her times bookend her 2016 conquest by eight lengths, a stakes-record margin.

Trained to perfection by Chris Waller and confidently handled by Hugh Bowman, Winx was a little restless in the gate but broke sharply. As Gailo Chop took up the front-running role, tracked by Godolphin’s Folkswood, Winx eased a few lengths off the pace. The Street Cry mare was posted wide, trading ground loss around the tight circuit to ensure a clear passage.

Hugh Bowman celebrates Winx’s emulating the great Kingston Town (Photo courtesy of Racing Victoria via Twitter)

Winx cruised up to confront the leaders turning for home, prompting racecaller Matt Hill to exclaim, “Bowman hasn’t moved yet. The Valley’s rocking, and the world is knocking!”

The wondermare surged clear, and the throng on hand, plus racing fans watching in every corner of the globe, likely envisioned her turning it into a procession. Then the blinkered head of Humidor, who had saved ground much of the way before peeling out, emerged as a threat. A well-beaten third behind Winx two starts back in the Turnbull (G1), the Darren Weir charge was now putting up the challenge.

Winx was not for passing, however. Humidor had to settle for an honorable runner-up, attracting a flurry of support for the Melbourne Cup (G1). The top two pulled 4 1/4 lengths clear of Folkswood. Royal Symphony checked in a troubled fourth, after Happy Clapper was laying in all over him passing the stands for the first time. As a race postscript, Happy Clapper’s rider, Damien Oliver, was slapped with a 20-day suspension, costing him the Melbourne Cup ride on defending champion Almandin.

As if a Cox Plate three-peat and 22 straight wins weren’t enough, Winx added a couple of other bullet points to her resume. She’s reportedly overtaken Makybe Diva as Australia’s all-time richest horse with earnings in excess of A$15.5 million, and equaled Black Caviar’s career haul of 15 Group 1s.

Waller again slowed down the rush to talk about international travel. Emphasizing that it all depends upon whether Winx continues to be in top shape, her trainer indicated that no decisions would be forthcoming until March.

Interviews with Hugh Bowman, Chris Waller, and Darren Weir courtesy of Racing.com via Twitter