Champion Winx has made a cameo appearance at Randwick on the first day of The Championships, galloping around the course proper before the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
The mare is in great shape and so is her jockey, Hugh Bowman, who has missed the past two feature meetings of the carnival because of illness.
Bowman has been suffering with a viral condition and gained a medical clearance on Friday to ride Winx in her gallop, having already forfeited rides at Saturday’s Doncaster-Derby meeting.
“I feel fine and I probably could have ridden today but I wanted to do the right thing by myself and everyone else,” Bowman said.
As for Winx?
“She’s as good as she looked,” he said.
Winx was clocked to run 1000m in 1:02.19, her final 600m in a slick 34.26.
For her past few campaigns, trainer Chris Waller has taken Winx to the races for a gallop to re-acquaint her with the race day atmosphere, particularly when she has three weeks between races as is the case from her most recent win in the George Ryder Stakes to next week’s Queen Elizabeth.
“It is a good way to stimulate her. It is a good piece of work to help keep her settled,” Waller said.
“She makes it look pretty easy. It only looked like she was going about three-quarter pace really. She was only just starting to get into her stride.
“We’ll have a look at her weight on on Monday. The only that could go wrong is if she starts to train off.”
Waller said it was always helpful to have Bowman’s input.
“Anybody could ride Winx but expecting anyone to cope with the pressure that goes with riding Winx is a big ask,” he said.
“He knows her and he knows me better than anyone else apart from my family and it makes my job so much easier.”
Winx is the $1.15 favourite to defend the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and take her winning streak to 25 and her Group One tally to 18.