June 19, 2019

Winx puts on a show in George Ryder: 32 in a row, one more to go

Winx, with jockey Hugh Bowman aboard, wins the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Randwick in Australia on April 14, 2018 (c) Horsephotos.com/Tomoya Moriuchi

The roar of the Rosehill crowd said it all as Winx ranged up turning for home in Saturday’s George Ryder (G1). The wonder mare was on her way to another four-timer in a Group 1 event, to complete the set with her four Cox Plates (G1) and her four Chipping Nortons (G1), and her 32nd consecutive win.

But so much more was being expressed than the pure excitement of seeing a champion in flight. Winx was gracing the Rosehill stage for the last time. Just one race remains in her epic career, the April 13 Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Randwick, and her fans were also feeling the significance of this moment.

Like a sovereign wanting to leave the best impression upon her subjects, Winx put on a show. The daughter of Street Cry began her inexorable advance out wide on the turn, giving rise to a frisson of excitement. Winx was going so easily upon straightening that regular pilot Hugh Bowman was sitting chilly. Lightly raced three-year-old Brutal was still hanging tough on the heavy ground, but not for long. Not once Bowman let her go, and Winx dashed away by 3 1/2 lengths.

“When I asked her to stretch she responded and you could hear the crowd roar,” Bowman said. “The excitement and the emotion, she responds to that as well as anything else, and once again I am just so proud of her and proud to be a part of it.”

Jockey Tommy Berry, aboard Brutal, was pleased with his best-of-the-rest effort.

“For half a stride I thought I was going pretty good. She obviously put me away,” Berry said, “but full credit to him, he’s a young horse, he still fought back when she went passed him. He didn’t love the ground. He’s in for a great preparation.”

Early leader Dreamforce held third, another 2 3/4 lengths back. Next came Prompt Response; So Si Bon; Land of Plenty, who floundered on the heavy going; Ringerdingding; and Teleplay.

After clocking about 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:32.20, Winx took her victory lap and soaked up the adulation.

Winx was capping a quick Group 1 double for trainer Chris Waller after his star colt The Autumn Sun was all heart in the Rosehill Guineas (G1). The step up to about 1 1/4 miles on this stamina-sapping ground forced him to dig deep, and he rose to the occasion like a true champion to outduel Arrogant. Connections have yet to decide whether the coveted stallion prospect might try Winx in the Queen Elizabeth.

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who rode The Autumn Sun, made it a Group 1 double over the same trip when Godolphin’s Avilius overhauled bold front runner He’s Eminent in the Ranvet (G1).

Better yet was to come for Godolphin trainer James Cummings, who sent out the exacta in the Golden Slipper (G1) as longshot filly Kiamichi held off Microphone. Under a positive ride by Damian Lane, Kiamichi kept finding all the way to the line to prevail by a length. Rounding out the Godolphin trifecta was the Anthony Freedman-trained Lyre.

Waller turned a Group 1 treble by taking the last major race on the card, The Galaxy (G1), with the speedster Nature Strip. Setting the pace beneath James McDonald, he grew leg-weary late and just barely lasted from the fast-finishing Pierata.