Just when it seemed the unthinkable was about to happen, Winx has rallied to restore the equilibrium and win the Warwick Stakes.
In front of a Randwick crowd used to cheering her home down the straight, there was silence on Saturday as the champion made her move from last and finally wore down her stablemate Foxplay to score by a mere half neck.
The trouble started at the barriers when a fractious Winx missed the jump by four lengths.
Trainer Chris Waller prepared himself for an upset but Hugh Bowman didn’t panic, easing the mare onto the back of the field then bringing her wide around the turn.
She responded like the champion she is. As she left the gate she knocked the timing device out of her saddle cloth but with Foxplay running 32.42 seconds for her last 600m, Winx obviously ran faster with one data company clocking her at 31.88secs.
Bowman admitted he had some concerns but also a wealth of confidence even though at 1400m, he didn’t have much time to get her to the line.
“She’s just so much better than them and I had to rely on that to win the race,” Bowman said.
“I was thinking it could be mathematically impossible to catch them but there was nothing I could do about that I just had to rely on the engine that I know is in her.
“I want her to win as much as anyone else but after what happened coming out of the barriers I had to renegotiate where I was obviously, and it was a concern halfway through but it was a good feeling the last 200 metres.
“I’m proud of her and I’m proud of everyone involved with her. It’s been such an amazing journey for all of us and judging on what we saw this afternoon we might be in for a few good runs yet.”
If the crowd was on edge, so was Winx.
“She was a bit jittery being first-up,” Waller said.
“She will tighten up from that. They can’t win all the time and I don’t want to be making excuses if she gets beaten.
“And Foxplay was really good. They are mates. They do everything together and she is in for a good spring.”
The Group Two race was named for Bob Ingham, the father of Winx’s part-owner Debbie Kepitis who was prepared for the worst.
“Even if she had been beaten, she still would have been a champion,” she said.
“And it is extra special that she has won the race named in honour of my father.”
Waller said despite the close call, Winx’s program would not be changed and she would head to the Group Two Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) in two weeks.