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With speculation that trainer Chris Waller may very well travel half-way around the world with wonder mare Winx, it is now a real possibility that she can emulate the feat of Black Caviar, and look to win at Royal Ascot. Online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au has pencilled her in on futures markets for both the 1609m Queen Anne Stakes and the 2004m Prince of Wales Stakes, with the market suggesting she will line-up in the Queen Anne Stakes but $3.50 is on offer for the 3-time Cox Plate winner to win any race at Royal Ascot in 2018.
So what does the likely opposition look like for the Australian champion? Based on other runners listed in current futures markets, it could well be her toughest challenge yet however to her credit she has previously challenged, and beaten, past winners of the race including 2017 Prince of Wales Stakes winner Highland Reel. Starting with the Queen Anne Stakes, we take a look at the probable runners Winx could take on with confirmation she will travel to the United Kingdom in 2018.
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*Full fields not yet decided, only possible nominations considered.
Queen Anne Stakes
Winx – $4.00
8 wins from 9 starts over 1600m for Winx, beaten only by First Seal back on the 4th of October 2014. Her best time over the journey is 1:33.65, which she ran in her most recent go over the distance, putting to sleep theories that she is past her best.
World Approval (USA) – $7.00
Currently ranked equal 11th on the Longine’s World Racehorse Rankings, the Mark Casse trained gelding was a recent winner of the Group 1 Breeders Cup Mile at Del Mar Racecourse. World Approval has a career record of 24 starts for 11 wins, winning his past 3 over the mile journey, all in group 1 company. The 6-year-old gelding has previously run the 1600m in 1:33.05, over half a second faster than Winx. World Approval is also a possibility for the group 1 Dubai Turf race in March.
Le Brivido (FR) – $13.00
A Fabre trained Le Brivido has shown massive potential in 4 starts to date, winning 3. Similar to Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling, Le Brivido is also a 3-year-old stakes winner, taking out the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot in June over the 1408m journey. Just the one start over a mile so far for the colt by Siyouni, finishing runner-up in a time of 1:36.82.
Beat The Bank (GB) – $17.00
5 wins from 7 starts for the A M Balding trained 3-year-old. His only losses to date have come in the Group 3 Jersey stakes behind Le Brivido, and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Royal Ascot in November, coming up against a couple of the worlds top runners in Ribchester and Churchill. A group 2 winner over 1600m, the gelding by Paco Boy has recorded 1:37.86 at best, winning 3 of 4 races at the distance.
Zonderland (GB) – $26.00
Train by Clive Cox, Zonderland is a 2-time group 2 winner over the mile. The 5-year-old by Dutch Art was also a runner in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, placing 8th. Zonderland has won 3 races from 9 starts, winning 2 over 1600 with a best time of 1:40.35, almost 7 seconds slower than Winx over the same distance.
Prince Of Wales Stakes
Cracksman (GB) – $5.00
Shaping up as maybe the biggest challenge yet for Winx pending a confirmed Prince of Wales Stakes showdown. The three year old by Frankel is the closest horse to Winx going on world rankings, with Cracksman rated a 130, closing in on Winx’s 132. Trained by John Gosden, 3-year-old Cracksman has had 6 starts for 4 wins, including the group 1 Champion Stakes at Royal Ascot in October, defeating Highland Reel. Cracksman has had 2 cracks at the 2012m journey, winning on both occasions with a best time of 2:10.73. Currently number 3 in the world, the 3-year-old is yet to miss a place, with his only losses coming behind Capri and Wings of Eagles, both in group 1 races over a mile and a half.
Enable (GB) – $6.00
Another horse creeping up to Winx in the Longine’s rankings. The filly has a career record of 6 wins from 7 starts, winning 5 consecutive group 1s as of late. Her only loss to date came over the 2000m journey, running 3rd behind Shutter Speed who ran it in 2:07.34. Apart from her maiden victory, each of Enable’s wins have come over a mile and a half or more, with the John Gosden trained 3-year-old clocking a 2:28.69 for her last try over 2400m.
Winx – $9.00
Has already comprehensively beaten last year’s winner of this race Highland Reel, prior to breaking the 2040m record at Moonee Valley, winning her 3rd consecutive Cox Plate in a time of 2:02.94. Dominating over distances up to 2200m, Winx has previously run the 2000m journey in 2:02.07, far superior to Cracksman’s 2:10.73, keeping in mind he ran an extra 12 meters, however non-applicable when the time gap over a similar distance is over 8 seconds.
Cliffs Of Moher (IRE)
Aidan O’Brien-trained Cliffs Of Moher has just the 2 wins to date however winning comfortably over 2075m in a listed race in 2:10.85. the 3-year-old by Galileo has not won since, yet has raced in 6 consective group 1s, placing once however coming across Ulysses, Churchill, Decorated Knight, Cracksman and Highland Reel. He is also a chance of running in the group 1 Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Day.
Eminent (IRE) – $15.00
Yet another 3-year-old by the legendary Frankel doing well, Martyn Meade-trained Eminent has won 2 races from 6 starts, most recently the group 2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano over 2000m in a time of 2:02.26, alarmingly similar to Winx’s best of 2:02.07 over the distance, still, better than some of the great mare’s tries at 2000. Eminent has raced in 5 consective group 1 races as of late, placing in 2.
Idaho (IRE) – $21.00
Could be a globe-trotter of the future for Aidan O’Brien, with the 5 year old by Galileo travelling to Japan recently to run in the Group 1 Japan Cup over 2400m, taking on Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time. Idaho ran 5th in the Tokyo race behind Hugh Bowman-ridden Cheval Grand and the recently retired Kitasan Black. Group 1 placed Idaho has now won 3 races from 16 starts, highlighted by taking out the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. In 3 goes at the 2000m journey, his best run was at Leopardstown in the group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, finishing 3rd in the race with the winning time being 2:07.74.