Watching Winx yesterday was like watching Don Bradman bat

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Winx ridden by Hugh Bowman. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

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    When Winx settled in at the tail of the field at Randwick yesterday in the most meaningful race of her stellar career, she reminded me how Don Bradman started his innings in a similar situation 71 years ago at the SCG.

    Winx needed to win to draw level with Black Caviar on a record 25 successive victories, while The Don needed three figures against India to become the first Australian to crack 100 first-class centuries.

    It was my privilege to watch both live.

    As a cricket-mad eight-year-old, I was sitting on my father Broughton’s shoulders on the grass in front of the then Sheridan Stand at the southern end of the SCG.

    I had the best seat in the house of a near capacity 33,000 crowd, three times the number who turned up on Friday.

    The Don was batting with the debonair Keith Miller after the early loss of two Australian XI wickets against India in a tour game.

    Bradman started slowly and took awhile to settle in on the important innings required, just as Winx did yesterday a kilometre down the road from the SCG.

    Once both settled, they completed their targets in the way champions always do – with pure brilliance.

    When The Don reached three figures, at least 20,000 hats filled the air. Dad’s hat whistled past my nose, never to be seen again – the air was electric, the applause deafening.

    I remember that day as vividly as if it was yesterday.

    The Don went on to crack 172 in a run a minute gem that included 18 boundaries and a rare six, while Miller was out of character with his 86 in 154 minutes with seven fours.

    I clearly remember saying to Dad how I wished I could meet this great man, shake his hand and get his autograph in an era of no television.

    “You never know, you might one day,” was Dad’s reply.

    When I did meet The Don 17 years later having started at The Sun newspaper as a cricket writer, I told him the story.

    “That’s a nice story, David,” he said.

    “Your dad was right, so let’s go over in that corner and have a quiet drink,” began 45 minutes that were so memorable I had to pinch myself to ensure it even happened.

    Winx’s connections must have had the same feeling yesterday.

    In a strange coincidence, both The Don and Winx had early career setbacks before they ruled their respective sporting worlds.

    Bradman made his debut against England in the first-ever Test at Brisbane, scoring 18 and 1 in a whopping 675-run defeat.

    He was relegated to the drinks waiter’s job for the second Test at his home ground SCG – the only time in his career he was dropped.

    After another Australia defeat, he was reinstated for the third Test at the MCG where he cracked 79 and 112, and he was on his merry way to legend status.

    Australia's Don Bradman (r) batting

    (Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images)

    Winx won her first three races starting in June 2014 but won only one of her next seven.

    But from May 2015, the mighty mare has won her record-equalling 25 successive races over 1300, 1400, 1500, 1600, 2000, 2040 and 2200 metres that include three Cox Plates, three Chipping Norton Stakes and three George Ryder Stakes.

    Both Sir Donald Bradman and Winx will be revered forever, and it’s well worth repeating how privileged I feel to have seen their crowning achievements live.

    It’s also worth mentioning The Don’s 117 first class centuries have never been matched.

    Justin Langer is the next best Australian with 86 first-class centuries, followed by Darren Lehmann’s 82, Ricky Ponting’s 82 and Mark Waugh’s 81 – all retired.

    The Don and daylight.

    There’s every indication it will be Winx and daylight by the time the mighty mare calls halt.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn't get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world's great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • April 15th 2018 @ 6:24am
      Kangajets said | April 15th 2018 @ 6:24am | ! Report

      She’s the best I’ve seen in 25 years .

      Others will know about some great old horses .

    • April 15th 2018 @ 10:31am
      Aransan said | April 15th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

      Bradman has the most first class centuries for Australia, however there are a number of Englishmen ahead of him with Jack Hobbs on 199:

      It will be very sad if Winx doesn’t compete overseas — for example the Queen Anne at Ascot and a Breeders race in the US. I rate Winx above Black Caviar but there will always be that romanticism associated with BC and Phar Lap because they raced successfully overseas. Peter Moody deserves great praise for enabling that to happen.

      • Roar Guru

        April 18th 2018 @ 7:47pm
        hairy fat man said | April 18th 2018 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

        There’s also some mystique surrounding a horse that is never beaten.

    • Columnist

      April 15th 2018 @ 10:56am
      David Lord said | April 15th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      Aransan, you obviously didn’t get the message, my whole emphasis was on Australia with first class centuries, and how no Australian has got anywhere near The Don 70 years later – nor likely to in the next 70 years.

      Besides, The Don was dismissed only 234 times for his 117 first class tons. Had he been dismissed 834 times like Jack Hobbs, The Don would have scored well over 400 first class centuries.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 11:39am
        Aransan said | April 15th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

        David, I wasn’t having a go at you or your article and I don’t believe I ever have in the past. I especially wanted to be less Australia-centric with regard to Winx who I believe to be the best in the world over a mile to ten furlongs. Here is a chance to show the world how good she is but that won’t happen if she never leaves Australia.

        You were very fortunate indeed to have met Bradman in the way you did and I rate Bradman above Winx as an Australian icon, and he did perform internationally.

    • April 15th 2018 @ 12:22pm
      Racingfan said | April 15th 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

      Thoroughly enjoyed your article. I think you can’t really understand how great these sporting champions from the past were just reading the bare black and white statistics . The Don’s record is jaw dropping enough but they don’t convey his sheer domination and demoralisation of very good bowling attacks. Seeing that must have been unforgettable for those lucky enough to be there. The same with Phar Lap . Those that saw him race never forgot him and wouldn’t hear of any other horse being as good as him. Winx is the best I’ve seen . Not just because of the races she’s won or the margins she puts on good horses but the way she does it. I’ve NEVER seen a horse who can do what Winx can do. And I don’t care a jot what the rest of the world thinks of her!

    • April 15th 2018 @ 1:49pm
      BrainsTrust said | April 15th 2018 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

      Batting is an art form, I like watching a horse run more than a human, and it is nature’s artform in action.
      Unless you fancy horses though how can you compare the two.

    • April 16th 2018 @ 6:53pm
      Forestgimp said | April 16th 2018 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

      Winx’s cover drives are awful, she has poor defensive technique and can’t handle short pitch bowling. No comparison to the Don, who was rubbish at running round with a brightly clad short man on his back.
      Good pharmacy you know mr lord.

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