August 18, 2022

Winx crowns epic career with 33rd straight win in Queen Elizabeth

Winx shown winning the 2018 Queen Elizabeth at Randwick (c) Tomoya Moriuchi/

The long build-up to Winx’s career finale turned Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth (G1) into more of an event than a race, and the wonder mare gave the Randwick crowd the performance they craved.

Queen of all she surveyed from the “Theatre of the Horse” mounting yard, to the warm-up on course, to the starting gate in view of the spectators lining up outside on the neighboring street, Winx saw off the gallant try by Japan’s Kluger to cap her winning streak at 33. Then to polish off the royal ceremonial, she paraded before her wildly cheering subjects for one last time.

Trainer Chris Waller, who generously deflected credit to his whole team, was celebrating his 100th career Group 1 victory. Winx, boasting a world record 25 of them, reportedly also reigns supreme on the all-time earnings list.

Regular rider Hugh Bowman, his lip bleeding thanks to a spirited toss of Winx’s head, tried to mop up the damage as he commented:

“She’s shown no signs of going backwards. We came here as confident as we’ve ever been and what a journey it’s been. It’s hard to believe it’s the end actually.”

Winx gave no cause for suspense in running. Reserved a little worse than midpack behind longshot pacesetter Mask of Time, she commenced her bid with ease turning for home and ranged alongside old foe Hartnell. Every observer knew she had him at her mercy once they straightened up.

But Kluger, cutting the corner deftly into the stretch, was a different story. As Winx surged clear of Hartnell, Kluger managed to keep up with her move. The Australian superstar always had enough in hand to pull 1 1/2 lengths clear, while Kluger excelled himself as the runner-up by four lengths.

“I’ve got no words really,” jockey Tommy Berry said of Kluger. “You just don’t have a horse sprint like he did then and get beat. I was really proud of him because even when he had me beat he chased her right to the line. Even everyone cheering him on the way back in I couldn’t believe it. They gave him the credit he deserved for running second to her.”

Hartnell was third, and another old stager, Happy Clapper, took fourth, trailed by Shillelagh; Mask of Time; Danzdanzdance; He’s Eminent, who never got into it after lagging unexpectedly near the rear; and Harlem.

With Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” blaring as her sound track, Winx took her final bows.

Winx’s journey on the racecourse is over, her standard of four Cox Plate (G1) victories unlikely ever to be equaled let alone surpassed. Now her next journey into the broodmare life is about to begin, with the hope of transmitting at least a spark of herself.

Which stallion is fit to be her first suitor? That will take as much careful thought and planning as a royal wedding.