Nerves have given way to a sense of caution as trainer Chris Waller prepares Winx to run as one of shortest-priced Chipping Norton Stakes favourites in the modern era.
Thrill-seekers wanting a piece of the $1.35 on offer about Winx will be relieved Waller has given the mare a glowing report on her condition since a regulation first-up win in the Apollo Stakes.
“Faultless. Worked well. She’s a dream to be training,” Waller said.
Waller admits he was as anxious as he has ever been before Winx beat Solicit in the Apollo, but will be in a relaxed frame of mind heading into the first Group One race of the Sydney autumn carnival at Randwick on Saturday.
“There is less pressure going into this race. I know where she is at,” he said.
“We’ve been there done that now. It’s just important to get those horses back.
“Her weight is similar to first-up which shows she has come through the first-up run well.”
Lonhro sets the benchmark for overwhelming favouritism in the Chipping Norton, winning as a $1.26 chance in 2003.
But Waller said experience taught him to take nothing for granted in a Group One race and he had the utmost respect for the versatility of some of the mare’s rivals.
“Never underestimate an Australian or New Zealand-trained stayer over a mile,” he said.
“They can pull one out of their backside.”
To emphasise Waller’s point, two Group One winners over 2400m are rated closest to Winx in early betting and both are resuming after contrasting spring carnivals.
Hartnell was below his best in Sydney and Melbourne late last year but his autumn form 12 months ago was of the highest calibre with a first-up Chipping Norton placing and a Group One win in the BMW.
“He’s had two trials and his work has been good. He’s where I’d like him to be at this stage of his preparation,” trainer John O’Shea said.
Mongolian Khan has better 2400m credentials than Hartnell as the winner of last year’s New Zealand Derby, ATC Australian Derby and Caulfield Cup.
The four-year-old was beaten less than two lengths when he resumed at 1600m in the Makybe Diva Stakes in a spring that ended abruptly after the Caulfield Cup when a serious bout of colic put him out of the Melbourne Cup.