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Champion mare Winx bows out a winner again

Winx has retired from racing with a sublime farewell performance in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

And so it ends.

Amid tears of joy and sadness, celebration and palpable relief, Winx has run and won her final race.

In front of the biggest crowd at Randwick this century, Winx has charged home to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m), her 25th Group One victory and 33rd in a row.

The win brings the curtain down on a career that has no equal, thanks in no small part to the care and attention from her team headed by trainer Chris Waller and jockey Hugh Bowman.

And she showed her appreciation for Bowman by head-butting him and splitting his lip as he got off for the last time after she beat Japanese visitor Kluger and old adversaries Hartnell and Happy Clapper.

As usual Waller watched the race in seclusion and when he emerged he was suddenly struck dumb.

“I don’t know what to say. I can barely talk,” Waller said.

“What can we say.”

The crowd said much of it for him as Winx rounded the field approaching the home turn in a carbon copy of most of her wins over the past two years.

The roar went up as Bowman set sail at the top of the straight and the mare strolled to the line 1-1/2 lengths in front of Kluger.

“It has been very surreal for me all day with the amount of people here. It is just amazing,” Bowman said.

“Everyone watching around the world. America, Europe. Africa. All over Australia. This horse has captured the hearts of a lot of people around the globe. There is really nothing more for me to say.”

Forty minutes before the Queen Elizabeth, the Waller-trained Verry Elleegant won the Australian Oaks to take the trainer’s Group One tally to 99 and set the scene for a magic century.

And of course Winx delivered.

“My team have just done an amazing job,” Waller said.

“It is rare they get the accolades. Racing for four years against the very best.”

“I just did the best I could. You don’t set yourself up for these big wins. You just do your job.”

Waller’s dedication to his job means he is Sydney’s premier trainer and Australia’s leading Group One trainer in addition to being Winx’s trainer.

At the corresponding Randwick meeting four years ago, she was beaten – for the last time.

Over those four years, she has been briefly challenged by horses such as Hartnell and Happy Clapper, Group One winners in their own right.

Happy Clapper’s trainer Pat Webster has seen some of the greats over his long career.

“I’m just so blessed that I was here to see it all,” he said.

“The Melbourne Cup stops the nation. I reckon she stops the world.”

Waller dismisses talk that because she did not travel overseas, she is not the world’s best.

“Her longevity sets her apart,” he said.

“If she had gone overseas as a younger horse, would she be here now?”

Among Winx’s wins are four Cox Plates, four George Ryder Stakes, four Chipping Norton Stakes and three Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

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