Winx makes it 20 and it was ‘almost like auto-pilot’

Jockey Hugh Bowman has never exerted so much energy aboard super mare Winx but in the end she made it look easy, claiming her second Group I George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday.

“Once she got the scent, she just cuts in,” Bowman said. “It’s almost like auto-pilot.”

Winx wasn’t the best to leave the barriers again on Saturday and settled back towards the tail of the field before Bowman started to ride her along closing in on the 1000m, then he gave the mare a crack with the whip approaching the 600m.

“She didn’t travel into it like I’m accustomed to which surprised me,” he said. “I wasn’t worried when they were running such fast time.

“I don’t think she’s as comfortable on that firmer ground.”

At the top of the straight Winx was still third last and her main rival in betting, Happy Clapper was starting to stride into the race with his jockey Blake Shinn sitting quietly aboard the hulking gelding but inside the 300m, Bowman gave Winx two meaningful slaps with the whip and that was it, “she picked Happy Clapper up in two strides”.

“She’s cost me two Group Is that bitch,” Happy Clapper’s trainer Pat Webster joked. “She’s cost him a Doncaster and a George Main.

“I dared to dream because I was really travelling and I thought ‘could this be the day’.

“I’m very proud of my bloke and it’s so exciting. We’re a part of it running second to her.”

Winx ($1.12 fav) defeated Happy Clapper ($15) by 1-1/4 lengths with 4-1/2 lengths back to Foxplay in third. The race time of 1.33.65 broke Racing To Win’s race record set in 2006.

“She’s a hard horse to watch,” trainer Chris Waller said. “There are so many things to analyse when she runs.

“My initial reaction to how she travelled is I guess she’s never run in a race with a tempo of 1.33.

“If she didn’t finish off I’d say, ‘gee we we’re in trouble a long way from home’. I’d say she’s looking for a bit further now.

“On these good tracks it’s just go, go, go and they went out way too quick.”

Waller said Monday is likely to be the day when he announces the race Winx will chase her 21st consecutive win.

The trainer has said all preparation that after the George Main Stakes, Winx would only have one more start before the Cox Plate.

“We’ve got to do the right thing by the horse,” he said. “I’d say Monday we’ll give everybody an idea what we’re thinking.

“She doesn’t need to race in two weeks time, I can see that today and there’s three options for her.

“Four weeks is most likely (in the Craven Plate or Caulfield Stakes) but she could run in three weeks in the Turnbull.”

Only Black Caviar on 25 has now won more consecutive races than Winx in the Australian racing record books. –

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