She’s been a bit shaky across the start of the season but superstar mare Winx has done it again, flashing from the back to win her 20th race on the trot, but it was a less desireable weekend for sprint sensation Chautauqua on his return to the track.
Having just turned six years old, Winx was expected to add another notch on the belt leading into the big one later in the Spring Carnival. The Cox Plate.
And deliver she did, taking out the George Main Stakes, or Colgate Optic White Stakes as it’s known these days, by a length and a half over Happy Clapper.
The Stakes is the first Group 1 of the season for Randwick and a real starting point for the Spring for racing in New South Wales.
It wasn’t as convincing a win as she’s had in the past to rack up the double decade of consecutive wins.
A steady start was expected as jockey Hugh Bowman looked to settle her into the pack, but sitting at the back around six or seven lengths back from the lead hitting the straight was a little concerning.
Bowman left it with plenty to do in the final few hundred metres but, as always, Winx made it look easy in the end with a blistering final stretch to comfortably snag the win in the end.
While still a win, it was far from the dominant wins we’ve come to expect from the great mare in recent years, a trend that’s followed the Chris Waller-trained star this season.
A miracle at the Warwick Stakes a month ago after failing to jump from the barriers would have ended the streak if not for one of the most spectacular comeback wins in Australian racing.
A huge run from Red Excitement just two weeks ago at the Chelmsford Stakes nearly brought the winning run to an end if not for another late charge by Bowman and Winx.
The key is that she is continuing to win leading into another charge at the Cox Plate, but that pure dominance and aura of invincibility is disappearing rapidly.
Bowman has been forced to really drive hard to take the lead late over the past month and it’s not great signs for the future if Winx continues to find herself further back than comfortable running through the final turn.
Just moments later in the following race at Randwick on Saturday, punters and bookies alike were welcomed with the highly-anticipated return to racing for Chautauqua.
The gelding known as ‘Grey Flash’ last took the track to race in April with an unbelievable run at the TJ Smith Stakes.
The seven-year-old blitzed the field from 15th and dead last with just 350 metres to go, pulling out a ridiculous run to take it by half a head at the post over English.
With all eyes looking towards the new mega-race The Everest in mid-October at Randwick, Chautauqua has been shaping up as a top pick for the world’s richest turf race.
While running at a slightly shorter 1,100 metres on Saturday, the Hawkes family-trained gelding was expected to produce the goods once again to add to his 24 place finish and wins from 29 races.
A terrible jump and start had him trailing out the back by three lengths early on in the race and it was tough going from there.
Holding out at the back for the most part, jockey Brenton Avdulla tried to reign the field back in with another trademark sprint finish but it wasn’t to be.
Coming out the left side of the pack from dead last with a few hundred metres to go, he could only reel in a couple of stragglers at the back to finish in the bottom three, taking a disappointing seventh on return.
Redzel stormed to victory and is heading to The Everest with momentum and plenty of favouritism as well.