A June appointment with Queen Elizabeth in her backyard of Royal Ascot for Winx seems to be moving towards highly likely after an awesome display at Randwick on Saturday.
On the track, the expectation was Winx would win, as always, in the Chipping Norton Stakes. But what she did first-up at a mile outstripped the wildest of expectations of the mighty mare as she scored by seven lengths.
Off the track on Friday, Winx went from $4 to $2.50 at Sportsbet and $5 to $3.50 at Crownbet for her Royal Ascot target, the Queen Anne Stakes, hinting the Chris Waller camp was pleased leading into her return.
“Punters are backing Winx as if she’s a certain starter in the Queen Anne Stakes so you’d have to suspect she’s on her way to Royal Ascot,” Sportsbet’s Christian Jantzen said. “After what she did on Saturday you can see why they were betting on Friday.”
Crownbet’s Matthew Campbell added: “I’m not sure how long the $3.50 will last because we haven’t struck a bet for any other runner.”
Winx was imperious in her victory on Saturday, her 23rd in succession and 16th at group 1 level, which equalled the world record for a flat horse held by US galloper John Henry.
She went past Black Caviar’s Australian group 1 mark of 15 and has won more than $16 million in stakes. It brought the suggestion she is even better as an autumn six-year-old, but Waller said there was a few lengths improvement still in her.
If so, another domination in the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill on March 24, would only confirm a Royal appointment.
“I think if she’s at her very best, she’s a great chance of going but anything less than that, she’s a great chance of not going,” Waller said.
“We want our darling to tell us what she wants to do and how the next stage of her life goes.”
The odds probably won’t change about the Queen Anne Stakes until a decision is announced by Waller and his team about whether Winx will take on the world after the George Ryder Stakes.
Waller has always indicated that would be when he makes a final decision on a Europe campaign. There is much more to consider with Winx, including the Queen Elizabeth Stakes during The Championships, a fourth Cox Plate and even The Everest.
Part-owner Peter Tighe is in awe of Winx.
“They have done everything we could want, the horse, the trainer, the jockey. There is nothing more you can say,” Tighe said.
“What is left to do is in three weeks’ time. She is 50 per cent there for what we wanted her to prove, and what Chris wanted her to do.
“He wanted her to win and he wanted her to win convincingly.
“And she has done all of that. We want the same thing to happen in three weeks’ time then it is a big decision.
“If we are going to do anything about Europe, we have to do it very shortly after the George Ryder Stakes. The decision has to be made the Monday or Tuesday after that race.”
Waller has said the Queen Elizabeth Stakes during The Championships would be on the agenda even if Winx heads to Europe. But the decision will shape the rest of her career.
“After the George Ryder it is whether there is Queen Elizabeth or an Ascot trip or a fourth Cox Plate or even an Everest. There are a million things and some of them are right out there,” Tighe said.
“The Everest is one of those races in the mix, but it is something that I don’t think is in her DNA, as much as everyone would like to see it.
“The sensible options are the Queen Elizabeth, Ascot and hopefully the Cox Plate.” – Chris Roots, Sydney Morning Herald.