The Golden Gift
Can one of you wise posters explain to me the reason we had this ridiculous amount of money thrown at an early two year old race in Sydney yesterday. How did that benefit racing or the punter. It was just another hand out to the breeding industry and an inducement to be offered by the syndicators to sell more horses from the breeders.
The racing industry has enough issues trying to look after surplus stock that don't measure up without encouraging further breeding of sub standard stock.
I heard wise words from an overseas racing scribe during the week who said "the breeding industry is about providing good racehorses, racing is not about providing successful breeding operations."
Shame we didn't consider that here.
Craig Williams last 50 metres
I don't see any discussion in the media about what Craig Williams did in the last 50 metres of the Melbourne Cup. He did a lot more than stick the horse's head out on the line.
An era of duds?
Gladys, earlier this year (in March) you claimed that BC and W's victims were "duds". You assured me that you'd provide a basis of measurment to verify your claims and compare field strengths from different eras.
I reminded you twice more and you replied that it was coming and to be patient.
Well, we've been waiting for over 7 months now, Gladys. Where is it??
JMac's perspective on Winx
This interview with JMac took place just before Winx's final race...
"I could say that having seen Winx’s rump disappearing into the distance in the home straight so many times, I’ll be glad to see the end of her!
As a competitor, she’s been, shall we say, something of a nuisance these past four years; you can get pretty sick of running second to her – that feeling where you know that although you’re on a top-quality performer doing its best, there’s no way you’re going to beat that mare. It’s happened to me five times, as well as two thirds. Three of those seconds have come at the top level, in Group 1 races.
But more seriously, Saturday is going to be a sad day when we say farewell to Winx after the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. She’s been simply amazing, and, as will be shown by the massive crowd that packs Randwick to see her off, she’s done so much for racing in her phenomenal 32-race winning streak.
She’s the best horse in the world, the best I’ve seen, and, I would say, the best horse Australia has ever produced. And of course all of that makes her easily the best horse I’ve ridden.
Some might have forgotten that bit, given the famous partnership she’s formed with Hughie Bowman. But I was lucky enough to have ridden Winx, way back in win number three of the streak – the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes at Rosehill, in September, 2015 – when Hughie was briefly suspended. Three years and many wins later, their partnership was important enough for trainer Chris Waller to not start Winx in a race when Hughie was again outed. But in 2015, thankfully they were happy to call on me.
Of course Winx wasn’t Winx then. And although her win felt pretty special to me, there was no way anyone could have predicted the way she’d follow up that winning hat-trick. But she sure gave me a thrill and it’ll be a memory I’ll treasure forever.
What turned her from “promising” to superstar? The confidence that comes from winning might have played a part, but mostly I think it was just simple maturity and development – a bit of filling out; more muscle on the bone. Early doors, she had potential, but she was a very light, spindly thing, a very lean kind of machine. She was known to enjoy wet tracks, and probably that’s what most people thought of her – they painted her as a wet-tracker. But to me, you could see she always at least tried really hard.
She’d pin the ears back and push to the line, and you could see she had a strong will to win.
When I rode her in the Theo Marks, yes, she gave me a good feeling as we went to the barriers. Jockeys can tell a good mover underneath them, like a racecar driver in a Formula One machine. It’s not like I was saying “wow” or anything on the way to the gates. But I certainly said it after the race.
As became her trademark, we settled near the back in that 12-horse field. That wouldn’t be such a problem, but we struck interference coming to the home corner that stopped our momentum and gave the leaders a big headstart. Halfway down the straight, we had to make up about six lengths in only 200 metres to get the chocolates. If it wasn’t Winx, there’d have been no way, but she powered to the line and got there in the last couple of strides.
I also own the dubious title of being in charge for the equal-smallest margin of her streak – at 0.2 lengths, or a half-head – but it was just an incredible performance. I’ll always look back on it, shake my head and say, ‘How the hell did she do that?’
Nothing Special to Look At
There’s been a lot of investigation into how she does do it. Famously, she’s nothing special to look at. She’s no Black Caviar, who was this big, beautiful mare, built like a brick shithouse, and with a great big stride. Winx is different in that while she doesn’t have an exceptionally long stride, she’s just so economical in the way she moves. She can increase her stride rate when she wants, and just skims across the turf. She just gets faster, and faster, and faster, and all with this wonderful, smooth, economical action.
Riding against her, getting beaten by her, is different to any other horse. Most horses take a hundred metres to get past you. Winx does it in a couple of strides. One second she’s there beside you, the next second she’s gone.
No one likes getting beaten, but it’s awesome to behold, especially when you think your horse is travelling really well!
A year after I’d ridden Winx, I was the bloke staring at her backside in second place in three of her four starts in her spring 2016 campaign: on Hartnell in the Warwick Stakes at Randwick; on Hauraki again in the G1 George Main, and then in the big one, when Hartnell took her on again as she attempted a second Cox Plate, at Moonee Valley.
What a buzz that week was. It was hyped as a two-horse war between my bloke and her. The build-up felt like a football grand final.
As hopeful as it might sound today, I thought we were a genuine chance to beat Winx that day. With me doing the steering, Hartnell had bolted in in his three starts since that Warwick Stakes second. The most recent was the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington, over roughly the same distance as the 2,040-metre Cox Plate. He’d brained ‘em, winning by more than three lengths over Jameka, who strolled away with the Caulfield Cup at her next start.
And it wasn’t just me, but a lot of people thought Winx was vulnerable in that Cox Plate. The market suggested it, with Winx at $1.80 – cricket-score odds for her – and Hartnell at $5. No horse has started as short against her since.
I made my plans with trainer John O’Shea. We knew if Winx was ever going to get beaten, you couldn’t come from behind her to do it. From barrier seven, to her barrier three, I jumped out ahead of her, and kept a good couple of lengths in front of her throughout. Going down the School Side with about 700 metres to go, I made my move and sent Hartnell towards the lead. I knew Winx was gonna come at some point, but Hughie brought her up alongside us earlier than I anticipated.
You’re Freakin’ Kidding Me
Towards the turn I was urging Hartnell on, but on my outside there was that familiar white bridle again. And Winx was moving so easily. To be honest, I was a bit deflated. Hughie later told the press he heard me cry out something like “Oh Jesus Christ”, as if it just wasn’t fair! We did exchange some words, but I think it was more like me singing out “Oh you’re freakin’ kidding me!” … or words to that effect.
As Hartnell battled on in his usual gallant style in the straight, I just saw Winx go further ahead – four lengths, six lengths, eight lengths on the line. I was just gobsmacked. It wouldn’t have mattered where we’d sat. And that’s the beauty of Winx. She could’ve waited another 400 metres to make her run and still beaten me. She could’ve gone a lot earlier and still won by a big gap.
From there, she’s only got better. It’s testament to the great job my fellow Kiwi Chris Waller has done with her, the patience of her owners, the work of the stable staff, and Hughie.
You know when Winx is running, because that day in the jockeys’ room, Hughie doesn’t say much. He’s a man of few words on most days, actually, but on Winx days he really goes into the zone. He’s done an incredible job with her the whole way through. I can only hope one day I get to have a partnership with a horse like her. You’d reckon it’s pretty unlikely though! She’s just improved with age, and I agree with Hughie’s comment this week that she could comfortably go on racing, and winning.
I’ll be out there trying to beat her again, one last time, on Saturday, when I’ll be on the second favourite (again!) in He’s Eminent. I’m sure Happy Clapper and Hartnell would love to know it’s the last time they’ll see Winx, having run second to her five and four times respectively. I don’t think the unthinkable will happen in Winx’s swansong, but I don’t think it’ll be as easy for her as her last few runs. And I do think He’s Eminent has a chance – though it would help greatly if Winx stands in the gates when they open.
Yes, it’s been a bit frustrating to have run second to her so often (and third twice). Someone worked out she cost me almost $100,000 in prizemoney through those five seconds, so I’d be a good bit richer if she wasn’t around! But just to ride against her is amazing. She adapts to any race conditions. She sits wide, she sits in. You can’t outsprint her, and you can’t outstay her. She’s won from 1100m to 2200m, and I reckon if they’d put her in a Melbourne Cup, over 3200m, she’d have got the distance and won that as well, because she just relaxes so well, and knows when to switch on.
She’s had longevity, being unbeaten for nearly four years. She’s turned up and performed on 32 straight race days. Every time. That’s just extraordinary for any horse, but especially for a mare, since hormones mean mares can often have an off day, or lose interest forever.
She’s just got no chinks in her armour. She’ll always come out on top. A bit like the mighty All Blacks, she’ll just find a way to win. And all of that is why – although they say you shouldn’t compare champions of different eras – I’m happy to do it with her. I’m happy to put her on top, by herself, against any of the historical greats you care to name: Phar Lap, Tulloch, Bernborough, Kingston Town, the lot.
She’s that good, and we’ve all been blessed to have had her in our lifetimes."
Read more at https://www.athletesvoice.com.au/james-mcdonald-stares-winx-rump/2/#gWOtIorCK4xTjPuy.99
Black Heart Bart
Just how appalling are our weight for age horses if a nine year old who has not won a race for more than two and a half years flogs our best weight for age horses. Add to that, three of the four placings were all aged nine years or more.
These are the same no hopers that Winx used to flog causing Gary to sob his heart out and declare Winx the greatest horse ever..
If anyone is still unsure as to why Winx never travelled, just have at a look at the Underwood yesterday and you will be enlightened.
betting or not betting
I sometimes have to wonder why I have a punt. Have a look at race one at Gawler today. I backed Old Cobber and it did not run a place. Justin Potter put in one of the worst rides I have seen for a long time on a favourite . I know the jockey can be the biggest variable in a race but you have to wonder sometimes
BEST HORSE CURRENTLY & LIKELY 2019/20
I was surprised to see that Humidor is only a 7yr old. Reports from his new stable and regular jockey are very good, so I reckon he will star this spring and if he has no issues, next autumn. I am tipping a huge run from him in the Memsie.
A likely successor may already have arrived in Mystic Journey, but Humidor, at his best gets my vote to stay at the top - win the Cox Plate and maybe go on to the MC if sound.
Of the youngsters, it is far too early to judge - Prince Fawaz was unimpressive in his recent track trial - Libertini looks good but is unproven over ground and may be kept to her own age and sex races. Te Akau Shark could emerge a contender and Avilius is not far away. If he improves on his Autumn form, then he will be a big contender.
There is a lot to be excited about over the next 12 weeks
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Australian Breeding industry
Time to come out of your mums basement K Dill. But leave Bop Bag down there- Im sure he won't chew through the gimp ball.
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