In scenes of adoration from a packed 40,000 plus crowd at Randwick the Chris Waller trained Winx under Hugh Bowman won her final race when winning the 2019, $4m, Group 1 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on Saturday.
In a race of supreme confidence by Bowman the champion mare swept to the lead at the top of the straight and poured on the power to race in the middle holding at bay by 1 1/2L an excellent challenge by Japan’s Kluger (JPN) (King Kamehameha) and Tommy Berry, with an equally brave Hartnell (GB) (Authorized) and Kerrin McEvoy in third, the margin 2 1/2L.
Winx strides clear for her final victory, photo Sportpix.com.au
Happy Clapper was fourth and Shillelagh was fifth with the disappointment He’s Eminent (IRE) staying at the rear of the field for the trip and finishing eighth.
The time was 2.02.54 on the upgraded Good 4 track with the final 600m in 34.60. Winx paid $1.06 on fixed odds and $1.04 on the tote.
The race belonged to Winx, Bowman and Waller from the moment the barriers opened. It was to be Waller’s 100th Group 1 win with a quarter of those from Winx, it was her 33rd win in succession, her 37th overall from 43 races and her stakes earnings of $26,451,174 made her the highest stakes earner in the world.
Bowman settled the mare mid-field outside Kluger and Berry with He’s Eminent under James McDonald behind and on the rails. Along the High Street side Bowman commenced his forward momentum with the mare at all times keeping out in clear racing room. They were wide outside Hartnell on the turn and then they surged off down the straight.
Berry saved ground with Kluger racing on the rails and the seven-year-old entire did not stop trying against the margin that Winx had established. Hartnell too kept trying, but it was too much and Winx had her race, her third Queen Elizabeth Stakes in succession, to the delight of the crowd.
After returning to massive celebrations from the crowd Bowman finally unsaddled the mare and she smacked Bowman’s lip as she drew her head back leaving the champion jockey bleeding profusely. Perhaps she was allowed the gesture in her final race track moment.
Winx gets a pat from Chris Waller, photo Sportpix.com.au
“It sure has been (the pressure). It is hard to explain. It has been amazing to be a part of. I am a small cog in the wheel,” said Waller.
“My team have just done an amazing job. It is rare they get the accolades. Racing for four years against the very best.”
“I didn’t know? I just did the best I could. You don’t set yourself up for this big wins. You just do your job.”
“She is the most amazing supreme athlete I’ve ever seen handled by the best coach. I don’t have many words. It’s just very exciting. Congrats to everyone who has been involved with this horse,” said Debbie Kepitis.
Bowman and Waller salute the crowd, photo Sportpix.com.au
“She has shown no signs of going backwards. We came here as confident as we have ever been and what a journey it has been. It is hard to believe it is the end actually,” said Bowman.
“It is going to be nice to have my life back. Having a young family and such a supportive family has kept everything very real for me. Having children certainly keeps everything in perspective, especially young children.
"Over the last 12 months there has been a few things in our lives that have happened to also keeps things in perspective. Our good friend Pat Smullen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 18 months ago. He is in a good place at the moment.
“I have known three or four other friends who have died from the disease since then. Christine’s brother took his own life in May last year and that was very hard for us all.
“I am so glad Tye Angland could make it here today. He used to sit beside me at Warwick Farm and I think so much about him. For me, that is where I get strength from.
“To be in a position to ride such an amazing horse is a great privilege, I feel the emotion. At the end of the day, she is just a horse, she is a good one, but she is just a horse.
“I think with what has happened to us over the past 12 to 18 months has certainly helped me to keep everything in perspective,” he said.
Winx, by Street Cry out of the Al Akbar mare Vega Showgirl, retires from racing in the best possible manner for her owners Peter Tighe, Debbie Keptis and Richard Treweeke.
Queen Elizabeth Stakes, photo finish picture ATC
What the beaten jockeys said:
Blake Shinn (Happy Clapper): “He ran good. He tried hard. We got into a nice spot but 2000m just sees him out. But he never stopped trying until the end and it was a great effort. It was a special day to be a part of Australian racing with Winx’s final race and it’s a moment that I’ll never forget.”
Kerrin McEvoy (Hartnell): “Great run. Travelled nicely the whole way. Presented at the top of the lane but the great mare was on my left as soon as I turned for home. He ran great, he’s been turned out in great order. I’d say he will be (happy to see the back of Winx) as many others will be. A great way for her to go out and the Japanese horse ran a great race so happy to run third on this fella.”
Jamie Kah (Harlem): “Something must have gone amiss because he pulled up at the 800m like something’s gone wrong. He’s better than that. I took a long hard look at Winx next to me at the gates. It was a pretty special day and pretty special to be a part of history.”
James McDonald (He's Eminent): “Just wasn’t himself today for some reason. He was slow out of the stalls, never mustered speed. Just didn’t feel enthusiastic about going. I’m happy (Winx) has gone out on a winning note and if she was mine I’d keep her going.”
Tommy Berry (Kluger): “I’ve got no words really. You just don’t have a horse sprint like he did then and get beat. I was really proud of him because even when he had me beat he chased her right to the line. Even everyone cheering him on the way back in I couldn’t believe it. They gave him the credit he deserved for running second to her.”
Sam Clipperton (Mask Of Time): “It was nice to be in front at some stage of the race. My horse ran his heart out, he was just completely outclassed. A great privilege to be a part of history at Randwick. I was trying to keep chipping away there for sixth but taking in the crowd it was deafening.”
Opie Bosson (Danzdanzdance): “We got a fair way back. She just whacked away up the straight really. (Winx) could’ve thrown me a tow rope.”
Brenton Avdulla (Shillelagh): “She gave me a great ride. Did a good job to run fifth and has had a good little prep. I probably had the best view in the house there for a bit. What a race to be involved in.”
THE FAIRYTALE IS COMPLETE - @winx_horse has done what so many other champions could not, and gone out a winner. Sit back and marvel at her last ever start, winning today’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes @royalrandwick #GoWinx. pic.twitter.com/4OcT5rN650— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) April 13, 2019