Not only does Hugh Bowman think Winx is more comfortable racing the Melbourne way of going, the jockey and her trainer Chris Waller believe the champion mare is also more relaxed in her Flemington surrounds.
Bowman takes that as a good sign for Saturday’s Turnbull Stakes, the mare’s first Melbourne start since last year’s Cox Plate which she won by a record margin.
Winx is the short-priced favourite to extend her winning streak to 21 in the Group One Turnbull (2000m), her first start at Flemington and only her fourth in Melbourne,
The mare had a comfortable three-quarter pace gallop on the steeple grass at Flemington on Thursday after producing a sharp gallop on the course proper on Monday.
“Winx feels very good this morning and she seems to have settled into Melbourne quite nicely,” Bowman said.
“She’s a little more relaxed than she was at home at Rosehill so that’s a good sign in my opinion.”
Bowman said the mare just went through her paces on Thursday after a more serious work-out on Monday.
“I thought she moved as well as she did all preparation on Monday morning so I took great comfort from that,” Bowman said.
“And the fact she’s a little more relaxed within herself, I take comfort from that as well and we’re looking forward to the weekend.”
Waller echoed Bowman’s thoughts about the mare being at home at the premier Sydney trainer’s Melbourne satellite stable, where she has been housed for her two Cox Plate wins.
“She’s obviously been here twice before and in fact we feel she’s more comfortable here,” Waller said.
“It’s a great open area. It’s like they’re in a natural environment. There’s so much room to move so she’s adapted very well.
“My indication is with a horse, how their body language is when they are going on and off the track.
“If they’re a little bit tense they’ll shuffle on and off the track. But she’s just flowing out there. So I think that’s great.
“Her eating has been good, that’s the other sign we look for.”
In her final lead-up to her shot at a record-equalling third Cox Plate, Winx is at $1.15 for the Turnbull with dual Flemington Group One winner Humidor at $4.60 in a field of seven which includes two $301 outsiders.
“I’ve got a very healthy respect for Humidor,” Bowman said.
“I thought his win last start was very impressive. He beat a class field and with all due respect to Happy Clapper, I’d say he’s probably the toughest opposition that she’s met this preparation.
“So I’m excited about that.
“Obviously there’s a bit of a long tail to the depth of the field but I won’t look too much into that.
“I’ll just make sure that I do what I always do and give her her chance to do what she can do.”
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