Reflections on George Main Stakes Day

This is the third column about Winx winning the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick with each win savoured and placed in the memory bank, a memory that is full of her 29 black type wins, and one that must be locked away and preserved as we may not see too many more.

There must be a realism about what is coming, a fourth Group 1 Cox Plate for sure at The Valley on October 27th, another autumn campaign maybe, but the mare will tell trainer Chris Waller and jockey Hugh Bowman. Perhaps the completion of a fourth win in the Cox Plate will see Winx take her final bow to an adoring audience. Speculation, but each run is to be remembered like no other.

Winx and Hugh Bowman, picture

On Saturday there was the best crowd of her three George Main Stakes, 14,519 over the 12,831 last year and 13,099 in 2015. They were certainly there because of Winx and to indeed to savour the occasion.

They cheered her as she entered the Theatre Of The Horse with her ear muffs on, two handlers and a totally focused look on her face. No looking left or right, there is a job to be done that requires immense concentration and determination.

The surrounding terraces were packed as were the outside balconies of the Queen Elizabeth II Stand looking down on the mounting yard. Jockeys not involved in the race came out of the weighing room to stand on the pathway beside the tunnel under the stand and watch as Bowman brought Winx through.

On the course side of the stand the Members top tier was crowded, always a sign of decent numbers on course, the crowd from the sponsors tent alongside Alison Road were out of their marquee and rail side, the main stand tiers were jammed as were the grass lawns.

Winx was applauded and whistled at as she and Bowman went past in their preliminary. The anticipation was palatable. Jockeys Winona Coston and Kathy O’Hara posed for photos beside the outside rail with a  very tall, elegant fashion model, they ‘sort of’ came up to her waist, and then the cameras including the model’s own turned to Winx going past. This was definitely the main act.

Bowman said after the race that he is still learning about the mare in her races.

 “She just knows what she is doing now. I used to control her through the gears, through the race, to help her know when and where to give her full energy but she knows now,” he said.

We are all still learning even after all these wins. There is that fleeting second when there is doubt, too far back, too big a margin to haul back, a chaser closing quickly. It is the nature of racing to doubt and watch.

However Bowman is so right. Le Romain had taken a serious break on the mare coming off the hill at the 350m. But Winx just clapped those focused eyes on him to her right, slid closer in to him to give herself a chuckle as she gave him windburn as she went past. She did, in a matter of strides, brilliant.

Bowman slowly brought Winx back along the stand rails again, past the sponsors, the Members enclosure and past the front of the lawns and the assembled thousands who did not move a muscle until she was back. Ears pricked the mare paraded soaking in the adulation. She had provided once again a memory for us all.

Bowman again.

“We will be lucky to see another one like her, while I am alive anyway, I think that is a given. How lucky I am to be involved with such a horse,” he said.

Presumably The Valley is sold out, how could it not be, if not secure a ticket right now.

Bowman and Winx return to the winners stall again, picture