August 16, 2022

Winx reigns supreme again in Queen Elizabeth, matches Black Caviar’s feat of 25 straight

Winx put up a superlative performance to make it 25 in a row in the Queen Elizabeth at The Championships at Randwick (Photo courtesy Australian Turf Club via Twitter)

Zooming from last to romp in a race that was supposed to pose a stiffer challenge, Winx once again demonstrated that she’s worlds apart from her foes in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth (G1). Her repeat victory in the A$4 million prize, the richest of The Championships at Randwick, etched her name alongside the legendary Black Caviar as the winner of 25 races in succession.

“She just keeps lifting to those big occasions,” trainer Chris Waller said of the world’s highest rated turf horse.

“She’s a very dominant horse under pressure.”

Winx imposed that dominance topped off with pure style. The daughter of Street Cry jumped smartly from the far outside post 10, and regular rider Hugh Bowman let her settle into an easy rhythm at the tail of the field.

Up front, multiple Group 1 winner Gailo Chop secured the lead without much effort, and in a Winxless race, the classy pacesetter would have had things made to order. For most of the way, he was blissfully unaware of her presence. Longshot Odeon was his nearest pursuer until beating a retreat on the final turn, when Classic Uniform and Japanese import Ambitious tried to ratchet up the pressure. But Gailo Chop shrugged them off and opened up.

A blue-silked blur suddenly moved into the picture on the outside – Winx. Quickening as if a video on fast-forward, she motored past Gailo Chop, although the leader wasn’t exactly stopping. Familiar rival Happy Clapper, also anchored at the back early, took an inside path to offer his rally, but could not get past Gailo Chop. Indeed, no other closer had the gears to catch Gailo Chop, never mind jet past.

Winx had the rest of the stretch to run up the score to 3 3/4 lengths, Bowman letting her do it all on her own on a long rein. She negotiated 2000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) on a good course in 2:01.65 to defend her crown, pad her world-record total of 18 Group 1 wins, and extend her streak to 25 in a row.

Gailo Chop staved off Happy Clapper by a neck. Humidor, who cut it close in Winx’s Cox Plate (G1) three-peat, closed belatedly for fourth. Comin’ Through, Consensus, Odeon, Ambitious (who lost three shoes), Classic Uniform, and Irish shipper Success Days (who prefers ease in the ground) rounded out the order under the wire.

Bowman marveled at Winx’s achievement:

“When you’ve been around racing long enough, you don’t dare to dream that big.”

Waller savored the moment as Winx hit her main aim, her grand final of this preparation. Now set for a break ahead of a spring campaign, she will come along on her own terms, at her own pace, and her trainer won’t push her for any target. If she makes it to her fourth Cox Plate, it will be because Winx took herself there, not because connections circled a date on the calendar:

As if Winx weren’t enough, Waller scored two other Group 1s on this second and final day of The Championships.

Unforgotten, with Bowman up, rolled past front-running Hiyaam to prevail in the Australian Oaks (G1) in reportedly stakes-record time. Waller hailed her as a “shining star,” so perhaps he’ll have another top-class distaffer to go to war with in weight-for-age events down the line. Unforgotten capped a terrific day for sire Fastnet Rock, who was also responsible for Arrowfield 3YO Sprint (G2) winner Catchy and listed South Pacific Classic scorer California Turbo earlier on the program.

Waller’s nine-year-old warrior Who Shot Thebarman, under Blake Shinn, nailed Zacada on the line in the Sydney Cup (G1). Twice narrowly denied in this race, in 2015 and again in 2017, the veteran stayer was competing in the about two-mile marathon for an amazing fifth consecutive year. Shinn ultimately ranked as the top jockey at The Championships, thereby taking home the Nathan Berry Medal.

Godolphin’s Alizee snared the final Group 1, the Coolmore Legacy (aka Queen of the Turf), to secure a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs. Trained by James Cummings and piloted by Glyn Schofield, the only three-year-old filly in the field upstaged her elders with a powerful late rush.

Alizee was coming off a fourth in the about 1 1/4-mile Vinery Stud (G1) to Hiyaam and Unforgotten, who’d upheld the value of the form earlier in the Australian Oaks. The cutback to a metric mile suited the homebred daughter of Sepoy, as a course-and-distance winner of last September’s Flight S. (G1).Alizee is a half-sister to Astern (by Medaglia d’Oro), hero of the 2016 Golden Rose (G1). Out of the Exceed and Excel mare Essaouira, they descend from 1998 Galaxy (G1) winner La Baraka, and their fourth dam is multiple Australian champion Triscay.