Wonder mare Winx will grace the stage for the final time in Friday night’s Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Randwick (1:05 a.m. EDT), where a three-peat would ring up her 33rd consecutive victory. A glorious swan song would also reportedly make her the world’s all-time richest Thoroughbred.
Winx caused a few anxious moments during her Thursday morning appearance at Rosehill, lashing out with her hind legs and kicking a Longines sign pretty hard. Trainer Chris Waller commented that he’d taken her earmuffs out prematurely, and the noise combined with the blanket annoying her led to the outburst.
“She’s certainly ready to explode is probably the better word of this morning,” Waller said.
The moment the racing world held its breath when @winx_horse lashed out and kicked a fence after her last workout ahead of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at @royalrandwick on Saturday @RacenetTweets pic.twitter.com/SQpm8vULFd
— Clinton Payne (@ClintonPayne) April 10, 2019
Thankfully Winx passed a thorough exam by Racing New South Wales Official Veterinarian Dr. James Mizzi and stable veterinarian Dr. Ross Alexander. According to the authority’s press release, Winx was “free in her action and no abnormalities were detected,” clearing the way for her to make her final start.
Friday morning, Waller reiterated the point with a tweet regarding her final exercise:
Winx gets a well done pat and has come through her final gallop and final canter work in perfect condition. Just 1 more sleep… pic.twitter.com/Yej5rIbX4T
— Chris Waller Racing (@cwallerracing) April 11, 2019
Winx enters at the peak of her powers. Resuming February 16, the seven-year-old mare captured the Apollo (G2) for the third time, beating old pal Happy Clapper. She ran him down again when scoring her fourth straight Chipping Norton (G1) at Randwick March 2. Last time at Rosehill March 23, Winx added a fourth George Ryder (G1), this time downing sophomore Brutal and Dreamforce who went on to run one-two in the Doncaster Mile H. (G1).
Now Winx steps up to about 1 1/4 miles for the first time since her historic fourth Cox Plate (G1), Australia’s weight-for-age championship held around the vicinity of this trip at Moonee Valley. Regular partner Hugh Bowman will have clear sailing from the outside post 9.
There’s a “This Is Your Life” vibe with not only Happy Clapper, but another familiar rival, Hartnell, turning up. Godolphin’s multiple Group 1 veteran has placed second to Winx four times in his career, most notably in the 2016 Cox Plate and 2017 Queen Elizabeth. Having gone their separate ways since, Hartnell stretches out after a trio of placings in the Futurity (G1), All-Star Mile, and Doncaster.
The most interesting new opponent for Winx is European import He’s Eminent. A Group 2 winner initially racing as Eminent, the son of Frankel was a close fourth in the 2017 Derby (G1) at Epsom but lost his way last season. Revived under the care of Sir Mark Todd, He’s Eminent turned in a characteristically bold front-running display to finish second in his Australian premiere in the March 23 Ranvet (G1). Only Godolphin’s Avilius was able to catch him. James McDonald has the return call.
Others seeking a piece of history are multiple New Zealand Group 1 heroine Danzdanzdance, third in the Ranvet; Harlem, who headed multiple Group 1 vixen Shillelagh to repeat in the March 9 Australian Cup (G1); Japanese Grade 2 scorer Kluger, exiting a fourth in the Doncaster; and class climber Mask of Time, coincidentally sixth behind He’s Eminent in the 2017 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano (G2) during his French career.
The Queen Elizabeth, carded as the 7TH Race, is the marquee event on day two of The Championships. Also on tap are three other Group 1s, the Australian Oaks (G1), Sydney Cup (G1) over two metric miles, and Coolmore Legacy (Queen of the Turf) (G1).
An appetizer for Friday night, courtesy of Sky Racing World: