Hugh Bowman had a Winx moment on Monday night when watching the tennis on television and then again 12 hours later when he partnered the mighty mare in her first public trial for 2019 at Rosehill.
After Bowman and Winx coasted into seventh placing in her first trial to commence her farewell racing campaign, the rider of the world’s most popular racehorse said he occasionally has to ‘pinch himself’ that, as a rising eight-year-old mare, Winx was still at the top of her game.
“I do (pinch myself) but then I am reminded when I watched Roger Federer last night in the Australian Open. Supreme athletes, if they love to do it, they can continue at a high level for a long time,’’ Bowman told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
“Especially the way she looks after herself and as Chris (Waller) pointed out, the way she’s so relaxed now. She really does save it all for game day and that was really evident in the trial.
“If that was a race, I would have been holding onto her as I was going past the winning bunch. That’s just the way it is. She’s just a mature athlete now.”
Just one month out from her first run for the autumn, Winx was slow out of the gates in her 900-metre trial and was two lengths last. She travelled kindly from there and tacked onto the field after turning for home before warming up to her task as they hit the line.
She wound up in seventh spot but notably was ahead of the field just 100 metres after the line as she continued to work.
“I was really pleased,’’ Bowman said later. “Obviously, we saw she missed the start as she’s had a habit of doing previously.
“She’s been really good (at the start) the last couple of preps. Because she did that, I didn’t want to rush into her gear and it took a little while to tack onto the field.
“I think her best work was certainly as she went past the winning post and beyond.
“Her action was great. Her mannerisms, if anything, she was probably more relaxed than usual which she has shown signs of in her gallops leading into the first trial.”
Waller was also smiling broadly after the crucial gallop.
“If anything, she looks better than we’ve had her at the same stage and her body language is just fantastic,” Waller said.
“We’re dealing with a very good horse and that’s pretty plain and easy for everybody to see. She’s making us all looking pretty good and she will tell us at the same time when she’s ready to stop racing.
“It’s just like last preparation, it’s one race at a time. We won’t say when the end is.
“It’s simply the Apollo Stakes first-up at Randwick in the middle of February and then we take one race from there and providing Hugh’s happy, the owners are happy and the obvious signs are there to say that she can progress to a second a third and maybe fourth start, then we’ll just take it as it comes.” – Racing.com
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) January 14, 2019