Bob Hawke was nonplussed. He’d just gotten off a typically eloquent speech in front of a claque of media, and no-one had a question for him.
Winx will take on a field of seven in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes as most connections duck and weave the great mare – but one provincial battler isn’t shying away.
Skyfire will race against Winx from a benchmark 61 rating, some 71 rating points behind the world’s best in Winx at 132.
The six-year-old gelding, with three wins from 28 runs, started last Saturday at Mornington, and ran fifth at $100 in a benchmark 78. He was last of seven before that at Geelong.
Just making up the numbers will pay though – Skyfire, for trainer Amy Johnston will earn a healthy $10,000 cheque even if he finishes last by the length of the straight. Even eighth place pays $10,000, so it’s somewhat of a surprise that another canny trainer hasn’t gotten in.
Fair play to Johnston too, who announced a good chunk of prizemoney she receives as trainer will go to charity.
Whatever it may be, I will be donating my 10% trainers prizemoney from #Skyfire running in the G1 Turnbull @FlemingtonVRC on Saturday to the @MakeAWishAust Foundation #bigpictureguys #thereismoretolife @Racing
— Amy Johnston (@ajbloodstock) October 4, 2017
Aside from that good news story, there are a few schools of thought here. One is that the race is open to any horse, so good luck to Skyfire.
The other is that a horse that is so far off the pace being allowed to run is a bit of a bad look.
It’s in the same district as arguments about Shamus Award being allowed to run in the Cox Plate, when he duly saluted. Let’s see how poor old Skyfire goes before we put the knife in.
As it stands, the rules might be changes anyway. While Racing Victoria had the ability not to allow the entry, Skyfire will start. But the talk is racing restrictions may come into play in future.
Skyfire is at least some chance of beating poor old Magicool, who has been last or second last in his last eight starts, having done absolutely nothing after winning the Queensland Derby back in 2015.
At the front of the field, Winx is expected to face some good competition from Humidor. I’ve been waiting to see Venture Storm over further distances so the 2000m should test him. Sir Isaac Newton will want to improve being down in the weights.
Almandin will follow his path from last year and run in The Bart Cummings, bypassing the Caulfield Cup.
He faces a much better field after his demolition job last start in the JRA Trophy, with Harlem and Amelie’s Star showing signs they can be leading contenders in the big handicaps.
Tally needs to keep producing, while Broadside is backing up again for his fourth straight week at the races for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott. I expect Sydney form to be thrashed again but Broadside is a tough horse at least.
It was absolutely phenomenal to see Enable beat the class of Europe in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday. She was already a star filly and has the potential to go on to be one of the greats.
— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) October 1, 2017
Inevitably comparisons went up between Enable and our great mare in Winx. Enable is certainly the up and comer to our Queen, and Winx might actually face her at Royal Ascot should everything come together. It’s racing, so it probably won’t, but we can only hope!