Even Chris Waller had to concede what everyone else had believed for some time. Winx is a champion.
There was every reason to believe the mare was heading for her first defeat in nine races in the Doncaster Mile. But she put the doubts behind her like she does her rivals with that dash of speed and class that sets her apart.
“That was amazing,” Waller said. “I thought she was beaten at the half mile, let alone the 600m mark, she was going nowhere and I have never seen [jockey] Hughie [Bowman] have to niggle her. Even after a few hundred metres, she never gets right back there unless we are taking her back from wide draws – but that was not really the plan.
“She just looked like she was skipping a few strides on the track. Maybe she wasn’t, but gee she showed some guts that last 200m.
“We took on the handicapper. She’s a champion. Does it get any better? It’s pretty unbelievable.”
Owner Peter Tighe believed “she was beaten a long way from home.”
“I don’t know how she did that. You are watching and thinking this can’t be happening then she just become the horse we all know.”
The answer lays in her phenomenal talent, and those of the horseman on her back. Bowman was at his best helping her to get to the turn and then letting her loose in the straight.
“She was never comfortable,” Bowman said.” It was the first time in any time I have ridden her that half way through the race I was concerned, because the worn track, it’s racing on the worst side of soft in my opinion. Race nine today, it’s had a fair bit of use.
“She wasn’t overly comfortable in it so the fact that she wasn’t comfortable and still produced that finish is something only a horse of champion qualities can do. ”
Bowman piloted Winx into clear ground in the Randwick straight and the crowd roared as she burst through and raced away to beat Happy Clapper by two lengths, with Azkadellia half neck away in third.
Winx left her rivals in awe. Brenton Avdulla would have briefly thought he was the winner on Happy Clapper when he made his run.
“I don’t know whether to cry or be happy,” Avdulla said. “I said a month ago he’d win the Donnie and I was heart-broken when Chris [Waller] said he was going to accept with her, but look – he’s a star in the making, I’m sure there’s a Group 1 in him”
Happy Clapper trainer Pat Webster conceded it took a champion to beat his brave horse. “At the furlong I was having myself on thinking, ‘We’re going to beat a champion here’. We’re absolutely stoked. The owner picks up $500,000 and now he has to decide, do we want to have a run in the Queen Elizabeth?”
Azkadellia’s trainer Ciaron Maher summed it best: “My mare was super, [but] she [Winx] is a special horse.” – Chris Roots, Sydney Morning Herald