Wondermare Winx is heavily favored to add to her legendary status in Saturday’s Cox Plate (G1) at Moonee Valley, where she’s in line to join Kingston Town as the only three-time winners of Australia’s weight-for-age championship. Post time is late Friday night, 2:00 a.m. (EDT).
In her first Cox Plate triumph in 2015, Winx defeated globetrotting Criterion and Highland Reel in a course-record 2:02.98 for the 2,040 meters. That was her fifth win in a row, a streak that’s endured going into her three-peat attempt. She thrashed them last time in the Turnbull (G1) at Flemington to make it 21 straight.
Only eight rivals are attempting to stand in her way. Recent European arrivals Folkswood (her most intriguing opponent) and Kaspersky are trying Winx for the first time, while French import Gailo Chop was eighth in the 2015 Cox Plate, and familiar foes Happy Clapper and Humidor have recently felt the brunt of her power. Royal Symphony, the lone sophomore, hopes to make the most of his break in the weights at 109 pounds, and longshots Seaburge and Hardham complete the field.
Winx enters in tip-top shape, as trainer Chris Waller expounded upon in his Thursday press briefing.
“Condition-wise, she’s carrying more weight,” Waller said according to racing.com. “That, to me, would suggest she’s become a stronger horse, and identical to people – we mature as we get older.
“She’s now a very strong horse carrying a bit more muscle – does it really make them run faster? I don’t know. Potentially it could make them a little more explosive.
“But it’s hard to detract from when she did set a track record as a lighter horse as a four-year-old and won by the biggest margin (eight lengths in the 2016 Cox Plate) as a five-year-old, and here she is as a six-year-old in good form and still holding together very well.
“With any animal or any sportsperson, you’re always a little cautious of what may go wrong – we know we’ve got the right horse, great jockey (Hugh Bowman), the right race, and everything’s worked towards this since she won the Cox Plate last year.
“Tuesday morning’s workout was a nice piece of work – her main gallop was here at Flemington last Saturday, and Hugh was equally impressed by that workout as he was last year with her final serious piece of work going into the race.”
Godolphin’s Folkswood provides the international ratings experts a handy batch of collateral form. The Charlie Appleby trainee has progressed from handicapper to Group caliber while placing to some well-connected performers. A neck second in the March 4 Jebel Hatta (G1) to eventual Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) and Irish Champion (G1) hero Decorated Knight (now bound for the Breeders’ Cup), Folkswood was also third to Deauville and Poet’s Word in the May 11 Huxley (G3). Poet’s Word has moved forward to capture the Glorious (G3) and finish runner-up in both the Irish Champion and the Champion (G1) at Ascot. Folkswood prepped by taking his Australian debut, the October 15 Cranbourne Cup.
Tune in to TwinSpires.com to watch Winx go for history.