Winx won’t run in Royal Ascot this year with trainer Chris Waller keen to give the champion mare every chance to win an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate next spring.
After months of speculation about will she or won’t she be sent to overseas to race, Waller and Winx’s owners, Peter Tighe, Debbie Kepitis and Richard Treweeke determined their great mare does not have to race outside of Australia to justify her lofty ranking in world racing.
MCAVANEY: WINX THE EQUAL OF PHAR LAP
HOT STREAK: WINX ONE ADRIFT OF CAV’S MIGHTY MARK
“Winx has nothing left to prove to anyone, she is and always will be regarded as a legend of the turf,” Waller said.
“We have been overwhelmed by the following she has attracted in Australia and across the globe and we understand that her fans all want to see her race in their respective jurisdictions.
“As a group we have all held ambitions to travel horses internationally and it has been our dream to have a horse race in front of Her Majesty the Queen at Royal Ascot.
“However, this decision is not about us and must be based on the best interests of Winx. That’s the best way to keep her racing a little bit longer.
“As her trainer it is my responsibility to carefully manage her career as it enters the twilight phase.’’
Waller’s skilful management of Winx has been instrumental in the mare going on a 24-race winning streak that stretches nearly three years and has netted her a world record 17 Group 1 wins and acknowledgment as the world’s best racehorse on turf.
With the decision made to keep Winx in Australia, it could extend the great mare’s race career for at least another season.
Winx will race next when she attempts to equal Black Caviar’s 25-race winning streak in the Group 1 $4 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Day Two of The Championships, April 14.
Tighe said Team Winx is “firmly of the opinion the time for her to go overseas has come and gone.’’
“She is a six-year-old mare, rising seven and we just don’t want to risk her with a long haul flight and all the risks associated with that,’’ Tighe said.
“If we went it would have been more for show than anything else and we decided the best thing for her is to stay here and get ready for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and then if everything is still going well, aim at another spring carnival.”
English racing commentator Matt Chapman said the decision to stay at home should not diminish the reputation of Winx, noting unbeaten European idol Frankel never travelled abroad to earn his revered status.
“Many will scoff, but can’t be one rule for (Frankel) and one for Winx. Hard until you have been to the Cox Plate to realise just how huge four wins in the race would be,” Chapman tweeted.
After Waller made his announcement, Winx firmed from $1.80 to $1.65 to win a fourth successive Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.
Australian Turf Club chairman Laurie Macri welcomed the news that Sydney and Australian race fans will get to see Winx race on next season.
Macri said the club hopes to gain approval to name a race after the great mare next spring — the Group 2 Winx Warwick Stakes (1400m) run at Royal Randwick in August.
Winx has won the Warwick Stakes the last three years to launch her successful Cox Plate campaigns.
“We would hope to see Winx do all her racing in Sydney during the spring leading into the Cox Plate,’’ Macri said.
WINX’S LIKELY RACE PREPARATION FOR 2018
Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Royal Randwick, April 14
Group 1 Winx Warwick Stakes, Royal Randwick, August 18
Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes, Royal Randwick, September 8
Group 1 George Main Stakes, Royal Randwick, September 22
Group 3 Craven Plate, Royal Randwick, October 13
Group 1 Cox Plate, Moonee Valley, October 27
Ray Thomas – The Daily Telegraph