October 28, 2021

Winx breezes to 23rd straight, 16th Group 1 in Chipping Norton

Winx barely took a deep breath or broke a sweat in her Chipping Norton comeback (Photo courtesy Australian Turf Club via Twitter)

“Bowman is sitting there like a department store mannequin!”

That instant classic from racecaller Darren Flindell sums up Winx’s seven-length stroll in Saturday’s Chipping Norton (G1) at Randwick. The world’s top-ranked turf performer sauntered to her 23rd consecutive victory, ratifying trainer Chris Waller and regular rider Hugh Bowman’s belief that she was pitch-perfect ahead of her comeback.

Winx was also notching a record 16th career Group 1 laurel, the precise definition of her achievement depending upon whether you consult the annals of Australian racing or the world. That’s a world record-tying number, emulating the late American Hall of Famer John Henry, and an Australian-breaking one that supplanted Black Caviar’s mark of 15.

Speaking the name of Black Caviar immediately calls to mind the fact that dazzling sprinter went to Royal Ascot. Winx’s display in the Chipping Norton has whet the appetite for her to follow suit, with the Queen Anne (G1) likely in her wheelhouse at the Royal meeting.

Decisions about a possible international campaign won’t come until after her next target, the George Ryder (G1). If she merely remains at her Chipping Norton level, never mind improve off it, a record-smashing number 17 is a formality.

As her connections have emphasized through her recent barrier trials, Winx has shaped as a calmer, happier customer at the gate. In the second half of 2017, she was becoming more agitated in the stalls, and at times gave fans a fright by cutting her finishes close. If a somewhat out-of-sorts Winx could still prolong her winning streak, and work through it to garner a third Cox Plate (G1), what might Winx do at her best?

Watch how the two-time Chipping Norton champion turns the three-peat:

The exacta was most logical, with Prized Icon getting up by a half-length over Classic Uniform. Libran and Who Shot Thebarman, Winx’s stablemates here by way of a tune-up, finished fourth and sixth, respectively. They surrounded the early leader Stampede, who folded to fifth. Lasqueti Spirit, Vinland, and Jemadar rounded out the order of finish a long way behind.

Winx clocked the metric mile in 1:34.92 on the soft course. Bowman observed that she really enjoys that bit of cut in the ground, more so than the firm tracks she kept encountering last preparation. Resuming at this trip, rather than the about seven furlongs of the Apollo (G2) as first thought, was also a factor.

Waller was caught up in the emotion of the moment, knowing what Winx means as an icon not only in Australia but across the racing world:

But will we see her on the world stage? We’ll have to wait until after March 24, at the earliest, to find out. That is when Winx will seek another three-peat in the George Ryder on Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill.