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Winx vs Black Caviar vs Makybe Diva vs Sunline (Part 1): Who would win races between the four champion mares of the 21st century?

Winx is going for a record at Randwick. (Photo: AAP)
Expert
24th October, 2017
40
1517 Reads

This century, there have been four superstar mares that transcended the sport of racing – Sunline, Makybe Diva, Black Caviar and Winx.

The beauty of these mares is they were all completely different animals, with different backgrounds, different histories and different racing styles.

Sunline was a bold front-runner from New Zealand, equally at home at sprint, mile or middle distance trips, alternating between big handicaps and WFA racing.

Makybe Diva was bred in the UK but did all her racing based in Victoria for two different trainers, transforming from an out-and-out handicap stayer to middle distance weight-for-age champion. She loved settling back in the field to have last crack at them.

Black Caviar was a hulk, trained in Melbourne by an old-school, wise-cracking Queenslander, the greatest sprinter ever seen on our shores, and possibly the greatest sprinter of all time.

Winx is trained out of Sydney by an ex-Kiwi, and may well go down as the greatest ever by the time her career is done. A third Cox Plate this Saturday, and the likely distance she’ll win by, stamps her as greater than Kingston Town at least.

Justin Cinque and I couldn’t help but wonder how these four great mares would have fared against each other if opposed in their respective primes.

We decided to set an imaginary preparation where all four mares would meet in a series of Australia’s most famous races, over a range of distances, including all of the main Melbourne and Sydney metropolitan tracks.

In assessing the chances, and thus the finishing order of the four mares, we decided to imagine these races were in full capacity fields rather than an unnatural, four-horse race, with all runners having even luck. That way, each horse could race in their natural comfort zone.

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Even though we have put in a couple of handicap races, we have allocated these mares as all carrying the same weight.

We certainly had a lot of fun thinking about how these races might pan out. Let us know in the comments below of your thoughts.

VRC Classic

Flemington, 1200m, weight-for-age

Cam: Black Caviar, Winx, Sunline, Makybe Diva
Justin: Black Caviar, Sunline, Winx, Makybe Diva

Records over 1200m

Horse Group 1 record Total record
Sunline 2: 1-1-0 6: 5-1-0
Makybe Diva 0: 0-0-0 1: 0-0-0
Black Caviar 11: 11-0-0 18: 18-0-0
Winx 0: 0-0-0 2: 1-0-0

Cam
Here we go. We kick off our six-start preparation for the champion mares of our time down the famous Flemington straight, where only Black Caviar has experience.

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How about the combined first-up record of Winx, Black Caviar and Sunline – 25 starts for 23 wins!

It goes without saying that Black Caviar is our horse to beat over this pure sprint trip, and that Makybe Diva would be the last to arrive, but we have disagreed over who would run second.

I can see a situation where Luke Nolen on Black Caviar sees Sunline as his main threat in this race, and parks himself on her flank up on the speed. Black Caviar would still be idling when Sunline starts being clicked up from the 600m, then would challenge her from the 400m, putting even Sunline out of her comfort zone first-up.

Black Caviar would simply be too powerful for them at this trip.

With Winx spotting Black Caviar a few lengths, I can’t see her closing that gap (remembering Black Caviar once broke 32 seconds for her last 600m down the straight), but I can see her nabbing Sunline before the post.

Justin
Nolen holds all the cards here with Black Caviar and if I was Peter Moody, my instructions would be simple – break the track record! If Black Caviar can set a cracking speed in the first half of the race, she will put Winx and Makybe Diva way out of business.

It is worth remembering that in August this year, Winx rattled off a wind-assisted closing 600m of 31.98s in the Warwick Stakes. With that in mind, Nolen would be wanting to open up a big lead on her in the front half of the race.

Sunline was always very effective around the 1200-1400m trips for a middle-distance mare and she can hold off Winx for second, benefitting from that fast speed.

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Lee Freedman spoke brilliantly after Makybe Diva’s third Melbourne Cup in 2005. One of many things he said that sunk in was that Makybe Diva would go close to winning the Newmarket Handicap over 1200m the following autumn if he could aim her at it. So, you have to respect the Port Lincoln-owned mare. Notwithstanding all of that, she’ll be the last of the four champs home in this race.

Cam
Yes, Lee had many great lines when it came to Makybe Diva, and his dry sense of humour was always handy for a quip when it came to the great mare. I wonder any of our commenters can up with a way for Black Caviar to bet beaten over this 1200m trip?

Black Caviar and strapper Donna Fisher before the start of Race 9 at Derby Day Randwick. (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)

Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro

Memsie Stakes

Caulfield, 1400m, weight-for-age

Cam: Sunline, Black Caviar, Winx, Makybe Diva
Justin: Black Caviar, Sunline, Winx, Makybe Diva

Records over 1400m

Horse Group 1 record Total record
Sunline 2: 2-0-0 11: 11-0-0
Makybe Diva 0: 0-0-0 6: 1-0-0
Black Caviar 1: 1-0-0 1: 1-0-0
Winx 0: 0-0-0 7: 5-1-0
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Justin
What a salivating prospect this race is! Black Caviar on her home track but extended out to 1400m against legendary opposition. Sunline gets out to a distance at which she never lost – an incredible stat for a mare who is remembered for what she did over longer trips.

Winx is the owner of an impressive 1400m record (five wins by a combined nine lengths), and that is to be expected. Makybe Diva was never at her best over 1400m but she did win a Memsie over this track and distance against a good line-up.

Nolen has to take Black Caviar to the lead again and if he can pinch a cheap section on the railway side of the track, it may be enough to get the unbeaten mare home.

Black Caviar did win an Orr at the Caulfield 1400m but that race had no pressure in it – it probably felt like a 1000m dash for Peter Moody’s charge. Greg Childs on Sunline has the job of ensuring Black Caviar gets no peace. If he is successful we could be in for one of the all-time great races.

Winx will be closing hard. Being the great winner that she is, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see her get the chocolates. Makybe Diva would be out-dashed but not beaten far in the end. I’ve got Black Caviar beating Sunline by a half-neck, with Winx a head away in third.

Can you imagine the roar of the crowd on the point of the turn? Goodness me!

Cam
This was the toughest race for me to settle on a final order. Even putting Makybe Diva in for fourth – her Memsie Stakes, while the race was only a Group 2 at the time, she did beat four multiple-Group 1 winners that day, three of which were specialist sprinter-milers!

And as you say, Black Caviar’s Orr Stakes win was 1400m in name only, a walk, trot and canter. We weren’t one inch closer to knowing how she would go in a proper race beyond 1200m afterwards.

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Up the front is where the action is. Unlike you, I think Sunline has to take them along here, and test out if Black Caviar can be as truly effective in a strongly run, seven-furlong race. Sunline is a dual Memsie Stakes winner, and we know she can exploit the unique contours of Caulfield that so often favour those setting the pace.

Black Caviar will certainly be gaining ground on Sunline in the straight, and as you say, my spine tingles at the noise of the crowd watching the hulking mare making her charge, with Winx and Makybe Diva also setting chase.

I’m banking on Sunline to just outlast Black Caviar, who will run the trip okay, and while I feel dirty tipping Winx for third in any race – and this probably sounds stupid – she does have a hint of vulnerability second-up and 1400m has caused her a little trouble from time to time.

Jockey Hugh Bowman riding Minx.

AAP Image/David Moir

Doncaster Mile

Randwick, 1600m, handicap

Cam: Winx, Sunline, Makybe Diva, Black Caviar
Justin: Sunline, Winx, Black Caviar, Makybe Diva

Records over 1600m

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Horse Group 1 record Total record
Sunline 11: 6-2-2 15: 8-4-2
Makybe Diva 0: 0-0-0 6: 1-2-1
Black Caviar 0: 0-0-0 0: 0-0-0
Winx 7: 6-1-0 9: 8-1-0

Cam
Here we are at Randwick for the most famous 1600m race in the country – this race would even out-hype The Everest from a couple of weeks back, especially if Black Caviar had taken out the Memsie Stakes with something in hand, suggesting a mile would prove no issue.

Winx and Sunline both had a mortgage on this track and trip, while Makybe Diva only won a maiden at 1600m, and Black Caviar was obviously never tested at the distance.

For the second race in a row, we disagree on the winner. I’ve got Winx claiming her first race of the campaign, while you think Sunline would have her measure.

Regardless of what Greg Childs does on Sunline, Winx can cover it. If Childs runs the race slowly, Bowman on Winx will creep up and ensure he is close enough to outsprint her. And if the tempo is strong, it plays even more into Winx’s hands in the last 200m, even though Sunline won’t be going backwards! You obviously think Sunline can pinch a winning break around the turn?

For the minor prizemoney, I’ve got Black Caviar feeling the pinch up the Randwick rise, and Makybe Diva steaming home with enough stamina in a truly run race to overtake her.

Justin
I love Sunline’s on-speed racing style in these sprint-mile races against Winx. She was such a tough mare and a great Randwick miler. This may be the best two-horse duel of the lot.

Sunline either leads or sits outside Black Caviar and pinches this race topping the famous rise.

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I’ve seen Winx win at Randwick around a dozen times and she usually takes over just as the leaders tire in the last 200m. Sunline will not be weak late, so Winx will have to stretch her neck in the last 100m. I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it because Winx is so great in a close finish.

I’m not certain that Sunline wins, but I would be shocked if the finish wasn’t tight whichever way the result goes. Black Caviar is just a few lengths back with Makybe Diva charging home for fourth with a flashing light on, ready for the step-up to 2000m.