Winx breaks hearts and takes names

Cameron Rose Columnist

By , Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    What else is left to say about Winx?

    While she actually did race a benchmark 70 horse on Saturday in the Turnbull Stakes, and beat Skyfire home by 26 lengths accordingly, Winx makes genuine Group 1 gallopers look far inferior to their grading when they face her.

    This time it was Humidor that was given a “sneaky” chance of upsetting the great mare, a claim made to look laughable once she careened away in the straight to the delight of the Flemington crowd. Meanwhile, Humidor was left battling along in her wake and couldn’t even finish in the quinella.

    The early stages of the race played out basically according to plan. Humidor had settled well back in the field, with only Skyfire behind him. He had eyes on Winx, just in front of him, and a strong tempo was set up the front as Sir Isaac Newton and Magicool carved out the sections.

    Looking at why Humidor lacked the fluent rhythm in the Flemington straight that he has previously shown in the Australian Cup and Makybe Diva Stakes, we need to look at what happened before the horses even got there.

    Winx and Humidor ran identical splits between the 1000m – 800m (11.77 secs) and 800m – 600m (11.37 secs), which were the quickest fractions in the race for those particular furlongs.

    The difference between the two was that Winx was jogging, while Humidor had to use far more effort than he was used to.

    winx-hugh-bowman-horse-racing-cox-plate-2016

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Damien Lane, on Humidor, may not have even realised what was happening. His job was to track Winx, and stay with her as they entered the straight, as he usually would in a standard Group 1. He was sitting a couple of lengths behind Winx in the run, and looked to keep that margin. It was to prove costly later on.

    As the field was rounding the home turn, we could already see Humidor starting to lose rhythm with Lane trying to rope him along a little, while Bowman is like a statue on Winx.

    As soon as they straightened, Lane had to give his mount a few cracks with the whip as he understood for the first time exactly what he was up against. By then, Winx was gone, as was any pretence of a contest.

    In Humidor’s wins in the Australian Cup and Makybe Diva Stakes his quickest furlong each time was the 400m-200m. In both races, he had built momentum early in the straight, and continued to unleash his gun-barrel sprint on the wide open expanses Flemington offers.

    Against Winx, the 800m-600m was Humidor’s quickest furlong, simply trying to keep up with the great mare as she moved into the race. It meant he had spent too much petrol when it came time to sprint, and thus lacked his usual fluent action accordingly.

    This was the same for Hartnell in the Cox Plate last year, also recording his quickest furlong between the 800m – 600m as Winx moved up to eyeball him and pour the pressure on. While still able to hold on for second in that race, he was only able to battle on from that point.

    To Humidor’s credit, he didn’t shirk the task and kept coming to run third when at one stage it looked like he wouldn’t hold on for a place. In fact, he recorded a faster last 200m than he did when winning the Australian Cup in the autumn, which is a good sign for his Caulfield Cup prospects.

    Winx

    (Photo: AAP)

    Ventura Storm almost matched motors with Winx between the 600m – 400m, which certainly told on him the closer he got to the line, but he too is coming along nicely and will be a player in the Cups.

    As for Winx, what a delight it was to see her relish the Flemington straight, and there are no more superlatives. She is already probably the best we have ever seen, a title which should be official when she takes out her third Cox Plate in three weeks.

    Based on what we saw on Saturday, Winx might even increase her eight length margin from last year, which was up from five lengths in 2015. A double figure margin is well and truly on the cards, especially given we don’t know what kind of field she’ll be up against.

    Before we see Winx again, the Caulfield carnival is upon us over the next two weeks, and there is the small matter of the inaugural Everest being run in Sydney. It’s an exciting time in racing.

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.