Timeform Review – 2017 George Ryder Stakes

The outstanding sequence of wins for champion mare Winx, Timeform’s equal top rated thoroughbred in the world for 2016 continued at Rosehill on Saturday.

Winx and French star Almanzor finished the 2016 year rated equal by Timeform on 133, but the super mare eclipsed that figure in the George Ryder Stakes over 1500m.

Winx who earned her previous peak Timeform rating of 133 with the annihilation of the 2016 Cox Plate field over 2040m at Moonee Valley turned her attention to some of Australia’s best sprinter milers in the George Ryder with equal effectiveness.

Winx was going for her second George Ryder Stakes win having easily accounted for her rivals in the 2016 renewal. However yesterday’s field was a far superior line up over a distance previously regarded as short of her best.

Included against her in the small field was internationally recognised and multiple group one winning sprinter Chautauqua, multiple group one winning miler Le Romain and group one Epsom Handicap winner Hauraki as well as impressive last start winner Mccreery – all proven in heavy track conditions – a fact that cannot argued to discount the merit of Winx’ performance.

Winx was also coming back 100m in distance from her last win in the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes which is never ideal for horses progressing to longer distance goals in a campaign.

Despite missing the start and settling at the rear early, Winx under Hugh Bowman travelled smoothly through the conditions and once into the home stretch accelerated clear of her rivals to clinically execute her 16th consecutive victory.

In her wake some seven and a quarter lengths astern was last start group one winner Le Romain with Chautauqua a further length and a quarter back.

Winx and Hugh Bowman  low flying across the Heavy 10 Rosehill track, picture

Many thought Winx may have been vulnerable against such quality opposition over the 1500m, however Winx cantered home, Bowman giving racegoers a brief look “ under the bonnet” before idling home, something that he has never done previously ahead of her campaign “goals”, in this case the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in three weeks’ time.

Last year, Winx became the first horse in history to win the Cox Plate – George Ryder Stakes double – now she has repeated the feat which must surely will go unequalled for many years to come – if ever.

And further records tumbled for Winx yesterday. It was the second time she has completed Chipping Norton Stakes-George Ryder Stakes double. Lonhro in 2003, Telesto (1994) and Emancipation (1984) have won the double once in the last 30 years but Winx is now the only horse to have won that double back to back.

In 2016, Winx became the first horse in history to win the Cox Plate-Chipping Norton Stakes-George Ryder Stakes treble in the same season. She has now done that twice.

Lastly, Winx became the seventh horse since the George Ryder was first run in 1903 to win the feature back to back. She joins Lonhro (2003/4), Campaign King (1987/8), Emancipation (1983/4), Manikato (1979/80), Foresight (1968/9) and Prince Regoli (1962/3) but just the second mare, joining Emancipation to go back to back.

In assessing the merit of the performance several factors were analysed, pre-race ratings profiles, historical race patterns, race standardisation analysis, plus race and sectional time considerations.

The pre-race ratings profile analysis suggested a Timeform rating for Winx of between 132 and 134 whereas the historical race standards suggested a Timeform rating of 135.

Sectional time mark-up analysis and the Timefigure pointed to a Timeform rating of between 134 and 135.

Winx’ last 200m of the race was easily the best by any horse on the day at 11.69 seconds but she really put the race away between the 400m and 200m where she sizzled through the 200m sectional at 11.25 seconds – low flying under the heavy conditions.

On balance it seemed a Timeform rating of 134 would be the most appropriate value – a new master Timeform rating for Winx – a figure that eclipses here outstanding win in the 2016 Cox Plate where she ran to 133.

It is conceivable that Winx may yet reach a Timeform rating of 136 achieved by the undefeated Black Caviar who joined Allez France and Habibti as the equal top rated filly or mare in Timeform history at that level.

Racegoers are extremely fortunate that Winx’ trainer Chris Waller and her connections have not dodged the hard decisions of where and when to run the great mare – dry tracks, wet tracks, up or back in distance – are all taken in her stride.

Winx will have one more start this campaign in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m at Randwick on April 8th, after which she will be spelled and prepared for a third Cox Plate victory in October.

Interestingly Winx will be fourth up from a spell in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a state in which in her last two campaigns she has gone to a new career peak rating. One wonders what lies ahead in three weeks’ time.