June 24, 2024

Life After 20: Winx Captivating the World

Winx is expected to have one more run before her Cox Plate three-peat attempt (Photo by Steve Hart courtesy Racing NSW via Twitter)

Her literal domination has extended only the 1,100 miles (approximately 1,500 kilometers) or so between the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne, in Australia, but in nearly every other respect the superstar race mare Winx has taken the entire Thoroughbred world by storm.

The highest-rated grass horse (and third highest-rated overall behind Arrogate and California Chrome) on the 2016 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, Winx continued to lord over her grass contemporaries on the 2017 list through September 10. In the interim, the six-year-old daughter of Street Cry notched her 20th consecutive victory, taking the one-mile George Main (G1) at Randwick, near Sydney, on September 16.

It wasn’t that long ago when a feat such as this could only have been enjoyed, in real time anyway, by those closest to the action or with access to proper satellite technology. With improvements in the worldwide distribution and availability of video feeds, plus the power of social media platforms such as Twitter, Winx’s fan base reaches across the globe.

Every race in the streak, every upcoming start that could see it extended, has been and will continue to be intensely covered. The only difference now is that horse lovers on every habitable continent can follow closely along, and are. Winx has even broken into the mainstream consciousness of her native land as evidenced by a recent profile on the Australian version of “60 Minutes.”

Comparisons had recently come to be drawn between Winx and Zenyatta, the U.S.-based mare who rattled off 19 consecutive wins before meeting defeat for the first and only time in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Zenyatta, too, is a daughter of Street Cry, and also happened to receive mainstream attention via a “60 Minutes” segment.

With the victory last week breaking the tie between her and her distant kinsman, Winx is now excitedly navigating somewhat uncharted territory. Twenty consecutive victories by a Thoroughbred is hard to fathom in the modern age. Making it all the more special is that only one of the 20, the Queensland Oaks (G1), has come in a race with restrictive conditions, and that Winx has successfully defied her opposition at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 3/8 miles.

While American fans would love to see Winx in, say, the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, the immediate goal of her connections – a third consecutive win in Australia’s most prestigious weight-for-age event, the Cox Plate (G1) – is far from a parochial one. Only Kingston Town (1980-82) has ever achieved the hat trick.

Prior to that October 28 tilt, Winx will attempt to make it 21 in a row in the October 7 Turnbull (G1) at Flemington. Interestingly, the home of the Melbourne Cup (G1) is a track she’s not run over before.

Trainer Chris Waller said in a statement this week that, while no decision has made about a potential overseas venture in 2018 and none would until March or April, it’s possible Winx could make a trip to Europe for a three-race campaign, including an appearance at Royal Ascot.

“Providing she is well, she will run during The Championships in the Queen Elizabeth ([G1] on April 8) and look to target a race during the Royal Ascot carnival or be freshened up subsequent to the George Ryder ([G1] on Mach 24) and be targeted towards a European campaign containing three races over a range of distances,” he said.

“The world is interested in this horse and they’re in awe of her performances,” said Waller later on at a press conference. “I don’t think we have to go but I think the world’s saying, ‘Listen, can you come over – we’d really appreciate you to come.'”