Winx breaks hearts and takes names

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, 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.

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • Roar Guru

      October 9th 2017 @ 8:23am
      kv joef said | October 9th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Seems we were impressed by the same stuff concerning Humidor. It was hard to miss. With the Turnbull, i started laughing at the 350m, it was like a replay of last year’s Cox … everything was off-the-bit and she is doing a working gallop. i would have loved to have seen that gallop at Flem last monday when she chased down Japonisme – nice bit of work i reckon 🙂 .

      Fancy getting to see two of the legends of world racing, Black Caviar and Winx, within a decade in our own backyard. If you would said that this was possible to me after Makybe Diva’s third Cup i probably would have replied … ‘it’s not going to get much better in this country than a horse capable of 3 cups’ … what a pleasure to be wrong.

      Congrats to Team Williams for turning the race into a genuine test with a determined pace. Hope the same happens in the Cox.

      • Columnist

        October 9th 2017 @ 9:30am
        Cameron Rose said | October 9th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        They don’t go lightly when Williams has multiple runners engaged, that’s for sure.

        It really was like last years Cox, which brought Hartnell to mind straight away for me. The harder they go, the more she gaps them with her reserves of stamina.

        • Editor

          October 9th 2017 @ 8:21pm
          Tristan Rayner said | October 9th 2017 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

          I nearly wrote a column on the clocker feedback out of that run – “blown away by world class work” “times rarely seen before”… hello? I get it’s her first Flemington work for those guys but … It’s Winx!

    • Roar Guru

      October 9th 2017 @ 9:19am
      Will Sinclair said | October 9th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      She is just an absolute wonder – a supreme athlete.

      Here’s a thought… any reason why she can’t win a 4th Cox Plate next year? She will be a 7yo, but seems to be going as well as ever.

      Anyway, I have my flights and grandstand tickets booked for Moonee Valley on 28 October to see the GOAT go around again. Can’t wait.

      • Columnist

        October 9th 2017 @ 9:32am
        Cameron Rose said | October 9th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        Makybe Diva was seven when she took all before her in that last campaign, albeit foaled in the northern hemisphere, but coming off a Japan trip. She’d only had 31 starts coming into that final prep, while Winx would probably have had 36 if she stuck to her usual four race autumn. I guess it’s all about what they do with her internationally.

        • Roar Guru

          October 9th 2017 @ 9:45am
          Will Sinclair said | October 9th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Do you think they will definitely take her overseas?

          Would be tempting to stay here – surely another QE2 and another Cox Plate are at her mercy if she stays at home?

      • October 9th 2017 @ 12:54pm
        Haradasun said | October 9th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        Yeah I was gobsmacked that people (maybe melbourne punters?) were talking up humidors chances as if $4.80 could have been Value or Winx wasn’t going as well as ever.

        I hope she stays here next autumn but the stable said a trip to a Scot next year is the likely scenario, either the queen Anne (won by greats such as Frankel and haradasun) or prince of wales

        • October 10th 2017 @ 9:55pm
          no one in particular said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:55pm | ! Report

          Those that talked up Humidor were probably the same people that talked up Black Heart Bart last year.

    • Roar Guru

      October 9th 2017 @ 9:21am
      Will Sinclair said | October 9th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

      I was also lucky enough to be at Flemington when the Diva won her 3rd Melbourne Cup, and remember Lee Freedman telling us all “go and find the smallest child on this racecourse, because they’re the only person with a chance of seeing something like this again”.

      At the time I was nodding along at these truly wise words.

      Since then we’ve had Black Caviar, and now Winx!

      No-one saw this coming!

      • Columnist

        October 9th 2017 @ 9:33am
        Cameron Rose said | October 9th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        Yeah, I was there for her third Cup too, as well as her Cox, Turnbull and Memsie wins that prep! We’ve been blessed with these great mares.

    • Roar Pro

      October 9th 2017 @ 9:39am
      Davico said | October 9th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      GOAT

    • October 9th 2017 @ 10:56am
      Aransan said | October 9th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      An expert analysis and a good article.

    • October 9th 2017 @ 12:10pm
      Mark said | October 9th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

      Rumour is the magic man Mr Moreira has contacted Ventura Storm’s connections requesting the Caulfield Cup ride.

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