Equal highest Timeform rated thoroughbred in the world for 2016 Winx puts her reputation on the line this afternoon when she lines up in the group one George Ryder Stakes over 1500m at Rosehill.
And the task that lies in front of her is shaping up as one of her biggest challenges in her outstanding 25 run career to date that includes 10 group one wins comprising two Cox Plates, an Epsom and a Doncaster Handicap as well as last year’s George Ryder Stakes.
Winx comes into the race with a winning streak of 15, and if successful today will surpass two outstanding champions from the past, Bernborough and Carbine whom currently sit with her on 15 consecutive wins.
But standing in her way are some capable opponents possibly better suited by the 1500m trip than Winx.
One pleasing aspect of Winx’ career to date has been the fact her connections have not tried to shy away from the difficult assignments.
Such was the condition of the track at Randwick in the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes at her last start when the track was continually downgraded as rain fell throughout the afternoon, that many racegoers expected her to be scratched.
But to their credit and to the delight of the large crowd that had braved the conditions to see her run, Chris Waller and connections chose to run.
And there have been other times such as being third up from a spell into her first Cox Plate win and like this afternoon dropping her back in trip for last year’s George Ryder Stakes.
But there is a difference this year. Last year Winx went from the George Ryder to winning the Doncaster over 1600m whereas this year her target is the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m at her fourth and final run this preparation.
The great TJ Smith always maintained good race horses will win whatever they are trained for and Waller has certainly done that with Winx – his prowess in managing her career to date is obvious to everyone.
Winx and Kerrin McEvoy having their exhibition gallop at Rosehill last week on a much finer day than today, picture Stevehart.com.au
But back to the task at hand this afternoon.
Winx last raced 21 days ago and that is a perfect break for her – winning all four runs off that break from the track. She has also raced twice over the 1500m at Rosehill for two wins – the Phar Lap Stakes at three and last year’s George Ryder Stakes.
However today like last year she drops back 100m in distance in the midst of her campaign aimed at a longer distance target. Now for most horses that is not ideal including Winx but she has only dropped back in trip like this once previously for a win last year so on the face of it, it should not be a big issue.
But there are other factors at play here not the least of which is the calibre of opposition - when compared to last year it is easy to see why today poses a far greater challenge.
In last year’s George Ryder Stakes, Winx was opposed to seven opponents and only one Turn Me Loose came to the race with a last start Timeform rating of 120 or greater. In fact just three runners Kermadec, Press Statement and Turn Me Loose had a twelve month Timeform master rating of 120 or higher.
So on the score of recent form, Turn Me Loose was the only “form horse” of note racing Winx and as we now know he was hopeless racing right handed.
This year the field is much stronger on both those measures.
For example three of her eight opponents today Chautauqua, Le Romain and Tosen Stardom all have last start Timeform ratings 120 or higher and if we ignore the mares weight allowance there is little between them and Winx on raw figures from recent starts.
If we look at those opponents in the field with a Timeform master rating of 120 or greater in the last twelve months, then five of the eight runner fit that criteria.
So while at first, we might suspect the race is as good as over, Winx will meet a vastly superior field to the 2016 renewal but with the mares’ two kilo weight allowance factored into the weight adjusted Timeform figures, Winx still holds sway over her very well performed opponents and is expected to win.
And the prospect of a heavy track holds no bar for Winx and in fact could help her dominance over her rivals as 1500m in today’s conditions is more likely to be akin to a 1600m race or further.
The five year average winning Timeform rating for the George Ryder Stakes is 125 and three of her rivals have already performed at that or a higher level.
Internationally respected sprinter Chautauqua has a master Timeform rating of 127 and although he steps out to 1500m for the first time with the right run he will be a worthy opponent for Winx.
So too will last start G1 Canterbury Stakes and Emirates Stakes winner Le Romain as well as Epsom Handicap winner Hauraki.
Enjoy another exciting Winx victory.