Champion mare Winx has a third Cox Plate at her mercy after giving her rivals a galloping lesson in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.
Having her first start at Flemington, and just her fourth in Melbourne, Winx recorded her 21st consecutive victory as she raced away to one of the easiest wins of her career.
Sent off the $1.20 favourite under Hugh Bowman, Winx raced clear to a 6-1/2 length victory from Ventura Storm ($17) with Humidor ($7.50) three quarters of a length away third.
Winx shortened to $1.25 favouritism for the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 28 as she tries to emulate Kingston Town’s feat of three Cox Plate victories.
Trainer Chris Waller says he can feel the pressure mounting as the Cox Plate approaches and knows he’s in for a torrid three weeks.
“I thought I was under pressure 12 months ago,” he said.
“Give me one week to get over today, go easy on me for the next week and then you can have me for the last week.
“We understand the responsibilities and she’s going to be very hard to beat.”
Waller said the wonder mare keeps evolving and improving and will go into the Cox Plate at her fifth start for the campaign.
Her first Cox Plate came at her third run of the campaign while last year’s came at her fourth run.
“There’s no training manual for a horse like Winx,” Waller said.
“We’ve managed to get it right but she makes us get it right.
“She’s got heavier every preparation and each time I scratch my head and ask ‘are you not ready yet’, but she keeps changing and keeps delivering.”
The transfer of Winx to Flemington has resulted in a more relaxed racehorse.
Bowman credits the openness of Flemington in bringing about the change in the mare.
“She was unenthusiastic last start in Sydney,” Bowman said.
“Maybe she had a bit of a day where she didn’t want to do it but she still did it in style.
“My theory is there’s a track being renovated at Rosehill, one of the big sand tracks, probably the busiest, which has put more traffic on the smaller sand.
“Everytime she works and being the competitive individual she didn’t like it, but the open space here at Flemington has suited and she’s able to do her own thing on her off days.”
Lindsay Park head trainer David Hayes suggested the effort of Ventura Storm would have won nine out 10 Turnbull Stakes.
He said the stayer was on target for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
“I just love the way he’s got that tactical speed and he arches his neck and relaxed,” Hayes said.
“I just think he’s going to be an outstanding stayer here in Australia for a couple of years.”
Asked his thoughts on Winx, Hayes said he was too busy watching his own horse.
“She was obviously breathtaking. She beat them like she should have,” he said.
Winx shortened from $1.50 into $1.25 in Cox Plate markets following her emphatic win.
— Racing.com (@Racing) October 7, 2017