Champion racehorse Winx, who is aiming for her 17th consecutive win, is the queen of the turf and she knows it.
The mighty mare will receive a royal welcome from fans when she steps out for the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday, her final race of the autumn carnival.
“There’s no doubt she knows that she’s the queen. She walks with a certain air of confidence about her,” jockey Hugh Bowman said on Thursday after her final trackwork before the race.
“When I go out on the track and we’re clapped onto the course, that for me is very special and it really hits home when you see all the young kids there lining the fences to see a champion.”
But trainer Chris Waller is treating Winx like any other horse in his stable in the lead-up to the “grand final” of her four-race preparation this year.
“At the moment to us she’s just another horse that has to be put through her training and her routine, and no real special treatment, and lots of pats after Saturday if again she’s successful,” he said.
“But … we realise she can’t always win forever – there’s lots of adversities. There’s lots of good horses that she has to race against.”
The customarily calm trainer is trying to keep his pre-race nerves in check.
“It’s a little bit like a child waiting for Christmas. It just seems to never come,” he said.
“Obviously she’s already had three races this preparation but this is the race we’ve been building towards basically since she won the Cox Plate in the spring.”
Winx is the $1.08 favourite at Luxbet to win the Group One Queen Elizabeth with Cox Plate runner-up Hartnell closest to her at $11, but Bowman isn’t pegging one candidate as his main opposition.
“There doesn’t really appear to be any stand-outs,” he said.
“I suppose there’s a couple there that are coming through like Happy Clapper who ran well in the Doncaster.
“Hartnell’s there again but he doesn’t seem to be racing in the same vein of form that he was in the spring time.”
Hartnell’s trainer John O’Shea is expecting him to race well, although he is yet to get past Winx in six meetings.
“He’s been set for one race and he really looks to be coming to a nice peak,” O’Shea said.
“Obviously, he’ll have to take on Winx, but Hartnell will run the best race of his preparation.”
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) April 5, 2017
— Australian Turf Club (@atc_races) April 5, 2017