Could Winx be Australia’s last great thoroughbred?

John Macdonald Roar Rookie

By John Macdonald, John Macdonald is a Roar Rookie

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    Winx secured three Cox Plates in a row. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

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    Regardless of whether her winning run comes to an end – and if that happens her conqueror will be remembered as the horse who killed Miss Santa Claus – Winx’s place in history is safe.

    By any criterion, Winx is an out-and-out champion.

    Trainer Chris Waller made the right choice in not sending her overseas. She’s not going to get any better and there’s always risks taking horses away, as you don’t know how they’re going to come up.

    Black Caviar won at Royal Ascot but it felt like a loss because she was six lengths below her best.

    A guide to how Winx might have performed in England was given when she beat Highland Reel by seven lengths in the Cox Plate. The stallion later retired as Britain’s greatest stakes winner and won just about everywhere, proved himself a seasoned traveller and performed to his best anywhere, but that’s only a guide.

    The second and more disturbing reason why we mightn’t see Winx’s like again is that if you take her out of a weight-for-age race, has Australia another genuine Group 1 performer to repel the overseas hordes?

    Look at old sales catalogues from the 1960s through to the ’80s and see yearlings by the dozen from staying sires like Better Boy, Summertime, Oncidium and Sir Tristam.

    Where are the staying sires now?

    Now trainers buy ready-made overseas middle-distance gallopers and stayers, and it’s a struggle to find local breds in Melbourne-Sydney Cups – a placing by an Australasian-bred feels like a win.

    Even the Doncaster can be won by a moderately-performed British import such as It’s Somewhat, and a seven-year-old Japanese import like Token Stardom can win 1600m Group 1s.

    Perhaps a new sire like Pierro might produce a Group 1 middle-distance performer. Perhaps there’ll be a breeding freak like Gunsynd, by a Star Kingdom sire in Sunset Hue, by a Newtown Wonder mare in Woodie Wonder.

    Most likely not.

    Easy to find the culprit: the Golden Slipper.

    The time is long gone since early Golden Slipper winners like Skyline and Sky High would train on to win derbies, when starters were expected to train on.
    When in comparatively recent times, 1995 placegetter Octagonal could train on to be a middle-distance champion, when he was part of a vintage race that could produce five later Group 1 winners.

    Now it’s a struggle to remember last year’s winner and the two-year-old scamper is the starters’ grand final.

    Recent names like Vancouver and Capitalist can have a winless early three-year-old start or two and be packed off to stud and repeat the cycle.

    Future winners might stagger on to October now to the $13 million The Everest – the 1200m atrocity that is arguably the worst innovation in the history of Australian sport.

    Well, a win for a colt or stallion will guarantee a lucrative stud career.

    At least the United States innovation with equivalent prizemoney is run over a classic weight-for-age distance.

    Combined, the Golden Slipper-Everest have defined Australian racing’s future. The danger is that it has no future beyond restricted two-and-three-year-old fields, except as a benefit scheme for overseas imports and visitors.

    When she retires, Winx will pass into legend. The hope is that Australian racing can survive her passing.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • April 11th 2018 @ 12:56pm
      no one in particular said | April 11th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

      What a sad, sad article.

      Firstly, sprinters are bred in this country because that is what the market demands. If the market demanded stayers then more would be bred. Sales results at Inglis this week will tell you what the market wants

      Secondly, what rule is there that a great thoroughbred has to be a stayer or 10f horse?

      Thirdly, was it not just a couple of years ago a horse ran 6th in the Slipper, won the Derby 12 months later and then went on to finished 3rd in a Melbourne Cup. And that horse had that evil Golden Slipper blood running through him as his sire won the race.

      Fourthly, your bagging of sprint races undermines another recent great of Australian racing – Black Cavier – and past greats like Vain

      Finally, who cares about the overseas horses? A good horse is a good horse, no matter where it is from. If a foreign horse is good enough to win a race here then so be it. New Zealanders have been doing for decades. Maybe you want to go on a rant on that foreign bred horse called Phar Lap

      Also, there are 36 G1 races in this country with at least 1 million in prize money. Only 15 are less then a mile. There are more at 2000m or further (13) then there are at 1200m or less (10)

      And a $10 winner pays the same in Melbourne Cup as it does The Everest

      • Roar Rookie

        April 11th 2018 @ 7:36pm
        Don said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

        Yep.

        Looking forward also to see the first crop of Criterion progeny up for sale shortly and the next couple of years of runners sired by Pierro.

        And you don’t have to look far to see a sire like Redoute’s Choice (a personal favourite) his progeny has won group 1 races from 1000m to 2500m.

      • April 13th 2018 @ 3:09pm
        michael steel said | April 13th 2018 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

        You’ve said it better than I could.

    • April 11th 2018 @ 2:49pm
      Davico55 said | April 11th 2018 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

      Could not agree more with the article.

      Aside from the fact that the prizemoney for a 2 year old race is beyond ridiculous, it only encourages owners to sell to stud and repeat the whole process.

      The slipper should not even be classed as a group race let alone a Group 1. Take that away and reduce the Prizemoney and watch breeders go back to breeding middle and long distance horses who may be able to run past the age of 4!

      The fact is horses are not being bred to race in this country any more but to line the pockets of breeders and those who have created an industry within an industry.

    • April 12th 2018 @ 9:00am
      Punter said | April 12th 2018 @ 9:00am | ! Report

      Australia will produce more international middle distance winners, because the gaps between international pedigrees are closing all the time.

      Danehill pedigrees are proven to be sprinter/milers but there is enough Zabeel/High Chapparal blood coming through the dams, which will stretch a horse to 2000m.

      It is only time before you get a Fastnet Rock colt that has the ability of a Atlantic Jewel, if not better.

      I am a strong believer that Pierro will toss up a superstar at some point, along with So You Think. Both these horses have enough staying blood in their pedigree to throw up a star.

      We are probably one generation away from it at the moment, so that Danehill’s stallion sons are far enough back in pedigrees.

      The argument about the golden slipper – I understand it, and having the Everest is compounding the sprinter bias of prizemoney. But there is still a LOT of cash in the Derby/mid distance/ WFA calendar, so money is not necessarily the issue.

      Your argument that the Everest is an atrocity – I was a in your corner until I was there, where it produced a raceday that was incredible. The fans were literally hanging from the rafters. It is a genius move from a progressive racing administration and only can be seen as brilliant for the sport.

      • April 13th 2018 @ 4:47pm
        Kangajets said | April 13th 2018 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

        Well said punter

        Look out for the hinchinbrook breed in the sprinters

    • April 13th 2018 @ 3:00pm
      michael steel said | April 13th 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

      No reason given for why THE EVEREST is an atrocity and the worst innovation in the history of Australian sport. Just put it out there anyway. It now makes for two decent sprints in the spring. The other being the Flemington one.

    • April 13th 2018 @ 4:45pm
      Kangajets said | April 13th 2018 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

      Once we get a few of these imported stallions that race here , to start breeding here , you will see some Australia bred middle and staying champs .

      When you look back at Sir Tristam and zabeel and their champions we call our own , well they are New Zealand bred .
      Sunline ,octagonal , night and power

      Maybe Bart can breed another Saintly from heaven

    • April 14th 2018 @ 7:35pm
      aus race fan said | April 14th 2018 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

      stop the crap
      one winx is a legend now not a champion
      2 our legends and champions at 1600 to 3200 ( Makybe diva) are as good as any in the worldso let em keep comming
      3 we dont have to go any where to prove ourselves Australian racing is second to none
      4- Winx beats frankel anytime anywhere
      5-breed winx with frankel and race it in Australia

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