With a wry smile, Chris Waller knew Winx wasn’t supposed to win the Theo Mark Stakes in her return to racing. Not when she trailed the field into the straight, spotting leader Strawberry Boy a seemingly impossible lead.
“I was always confident,” Waller chuckled. And he could afford to. Bar second favourite Press Statement’s train wreck in the $1 million Golden Rose feature, Waller enjoyed a day out on his home track as Silverball (Kingston Town Stakes), Catkins (Sheraco Stakes) and Winx completed a stakes-winning treble.
Yet Waller was only too happy to admit Winx’s stunning turn of foot, last seen in a Queensland Oaks drubbing during winter, has little to do with him after the group 2 sprint.
“I don’t teach them to do that,” he said as jockey James McDonald wheeled the mare to the outside to burst to a last-stride win from outsider Sons Of John. “She might be the new Catkins.
“That’s why we said we would give her a light spring because we haven’t missed her in the past year obviously. She has been up from May right through to August in the early three-year-old races and ready for the autumn from Sydney up to Queensland. We will press on to the Epsom now, it looks a nice race for her over the mile in three weeks time.”
Perhaps that’s why Waller will refrain from any grand plans this spring, preferring to nurse Winx through to next autumn. And McDonald will be keen to maintain an association after his own stakes treble at Rosehill, highlighted by Exosphere’s win in the Golden Rose.
“Absolute passenger,” McDonald said of Winx’s blistering acceleration. “She’s a great mare. Her passage into the straight wasn’t exceptional, but good horses overcome that and that’s what she did. She is going to have to step up to be as good as Catkins but she is definitely well on her way.
Any number of horses looked a winning chance at the 100-metre mark with Ninth Legion and Strawberry Boy close up in third and fourth. – Sydney Morning Herald