Winx won again, gloriously. That wouldn’t be surprising except for the following:
There’s only so far a champion can be compared. I wrote a few weeks back that Winx was close to eclipsing Black Caviar as she’s more versatile. She probably has now.
Makybe Diva was a handicapper who peaked for her big days, whereas Winx just keeps winning. Sunline was a magical mare that would be probably be running seconds to Winx across nearly every distance they’d match.
But put aside the comparisons to mares and other great horses for a second, because she’s better than that.
Winx is Australia’s best athlete right now. And that’s not just because Australia’s elite sportspeople are in a bit of a lull at the moment.
Many people scorned the idea when Black Caviar was named Australia’s ‘sportswoman of the year’ by the Daily Telegraph, who did have their tongues in their cheek while being fairly serious about the whole thing too.
The only disagreement I had was that Black Caviar should’ve beaten the men too. Michael Clarke was named the best of the blokes in that same Tele feature.
Winx is the elite of the elite where Australia’s best measure up across the globe, although that’s where things start getting contentious. Not all agree.
I abide by fairly a strict don’t-bite policy, but even I couldn’t resist when some Europe-based racing fans were discussing on Twitter how overrated Winx is by us Aussies.
The Europeans respect our sprinters but not our stayers, and possibly with good reason given what turns up to win our Group-level staying races.
But do they have the versatile Winx wrong? I asked Bloodstock Analyst Harriet Connor for a ‘please explain’ after some friendly banter which included the line “If you think Winx could beat all the horses Highland Reel has since beaten [following the 2015 Cox Plate], you’re crazy”.
While Ms Connor explained she doesn’t speak for all Europeans, she was good enough to go on the record on an Australian site with her thoughts on why it’s hard to know where Winx stacks up.
“It’s not that I am sceptical of Winx, I just don’t rate Australian racing as being on a par with Europe,” Connor told me.
“The best horses always eventually lose because ordinarily, they end up racing against other top horses. Frankel was amazing, but his dominance was dependent on running only at a mile, he just wasn’t the best over other distances.
“Professionally speaking, one of the key things we look at when evaluating the breeding value of a recently retired mare is the variations in distances she has won over.
“If she has quite a spread, say 2f+ [400m+] then we generally assume that she wasn’t raced against challenging opposition, nor can we necessarily determine what her optimum trip was, and this affects her value as a broodmare.
“Idaho (full to Highland Reel) caused a massive headache last year for Aidan O’Brien who said something along the lines of ‘because his dam [Hveger] raced in Australia, we’d no idea what his ideal trip would be'”.
These enticing challenges and stimulating opinion make the Winx story even more exciting. Should she manage to pull off the Queen Elizabeth, and go well in the spring, a big 2018 beckons.
Her trainer Chris Waller, who again sported that truly sweet bottom lip quiver after her George Ryder win, has pointed at next year as being the one when she might head to Royal Ascot.
That’s when those who scoff will be put firmly to the test.