May 12, 2021

Winx rides into world record book with 17th Group 1 win, extends streak to 24 in George Ryder

Winx just surpassed John Henry's world record of 16 G1 wins when turning a three-peat in the George Ryder (Photo courtesy Australian Turf Club via Twitter)

Australian superstar Winx didn’t need to pull out the fireworks at a wet Rosehill to rewrite the record book.

Just plowing through the rain-softened going in Saturday’s George Ryder (G1), the Street Cry mare wore down a game Happy Clapper to notch a 17th career Group 1 tally – eclipsing the mark of 16 long held by the late, great American gelding John Henry. (As Hong Kong scribe Andrew Hawkins pointed out, this is obviously on the Flat; if you want to count the jumps game, Hurricane Fly has 22.) Winx’s 17 have all come during her prolonged winning spree, now up to 24 in a row.

Godolphin’s outstanding sophomore Kementari was thought capable of making Winx work a little, but she left him with ease as both launched their bids in the stretch. Happy Clapper proved the tougher to dispatch, digging in resiliently to no avail, and Winx bested him by three-quarters of a length. Regular rider Hugh Bowman, judged fit earlier this week after sustaining a concussion in a March 10 spill, guided her through the 1500 meters (about 7 1/2 furlongs) in 1:31.48.

Happy Clapper had the same margin to spare over Kementari, who hit his stride late for third. Both placegetters are now bound for the Doncaster H. (G1) at a metric mile.

The George Ryder was Winx’s third consecutive three-peat, following her third Cox Plate (G1) in succession in October and her devastating return as the two-time defending champion in the March 3 Chipping Norton (G1). She garnered her first Group 1 trophy in the 2015 Queensland Oaks (G1), and her resume has since grown to encompass the 2015 Epsom H. (G1); 2016 Doncaster H. and Caulfield S. (G1); the 2016-17 runnings of the George Main (G1); and the 2017 Queen Elizabeth (G1) and Turnbull (G1).

Winx will next set her sights on tying Black Caviar’s sequence of 25 straight victories. Black Caviar achieved that pinnacle while remaining unbeaten, and putting her skein on the line at Royal Ascot.

But will Winx travel abroad?

Trainer Chris Waller remained non-committal in the post-race interview, saying that he hadn’t discussed it with her owners yet. After reiterating that Winx would seek a repeat in Randwick’s April 14 Queen Elizabeth at The Championships, Waller placed particular emphasis on the word “if” regarding a European venture. He added that connections may want to pursue an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate – a mission that would truncate a possible campaign in Europe.

In other words, international racing fans must continue to wait for Winx’s plans to crystallize.

Quotes from Racing New South Wales

Winning rider Hugh Bowman on Winx: “It was a bit of a tactical race, there was no pressure early. I actually never went in behind Brenton [Avdulla on Kementari] because I could just feel I was getting away from them a bit.

“They are high class horses and I’ve never treated her opposition with disrespect, I’ve always treated them with the respect they deserve.

“Happy Clapper is a supreme athlete and look, this mare is just better than them. I have so much confidence in her, she gave me such a thrilling feeling as she did everyone watching here today.

“I could feel the crowd erupt as we went to the front at the 200 meters and a world record, what a special, special horse she is and I’m just so grateful to be her jockey.

“Each horse is an individual but this horse has captivated the attention of the world, she really has and congratulations to Chris (Waller) in his management of her and the owners with their patience early on.

“It’s just been such a wonderful ride for all of us, we’ve formed such great friendships all to do with this lovely mare.”

Jockey Blake Shinn on runner-up Happy Clapper: “It was an amazing run again. Running into Winx is a bit hard to swallow. He’s put his heart and soul into every run. It was a great run. Bring on the Doncaster.”

Brenton Avdulla, who rode third-placer Kementari: “I was very happy with him in his first time at weight for age. I just rode him comfortable where he was nice and quiet. I saved him for a dash up and he was beaten two lengths by the mighty mare. He meets Happy Clapper a lot better at the weights (in the Doncaster). He only gets 51.5kg. It’ll take a good horse to beat him.”

***

Waller and Bowman made it a quick Group 1 double with D’Argento in the Rosehill Guineas (G1).

In the A$3.5 million Golden Slipper, Team Hawkes’ Estijaab blazed out of post 14 for Avdulla, cleared the field, found an extra spurt in the stretch, and fought hard to hold Oohood by a head. Sunlight rounded out the fillies’ trifecta in the world’s richest juvenile race.

Earlier, the Darren Weir-trained Gailo Chop scored a third Group 1 laurel in the Ranvet (G1) beneath Mark Zahra.


Capping the five Group 1s on the banner card, In Her Time registered a deserved top-level success in The Galaxy (G1) after near-misses in last year’s Stradbroke H. (G1) and Manikato (G1). Jockey Zac Purton, who made the trek from Hong Kong for Slipper Day, was aboard for trainer Benjamin Smith.