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Winx on song for autumn finale

Jockey Hugh Bowman on Winx
Winx has eight rivals as she bids for her 17th consecutive win in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

All the boxes have been ticked ahead of Winx’s autumn finale but there is still an air of nervous tension about the great mare ahead of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Winx will aim for her 17th-straight win in Saturday’s $4 million race over 2000 metres, her fourth start this preparation.

Her race program has gone to plan but the wet Sydney weather has injected an unwelcome element into the meticulous schedule.

Trainer Chris Waller admits he has had some anxious moments worrying about the effect hard runs on heavy tracks could have on the mare.

So far, so good.

“I’ve been surprised by how well she’s handled the wet tracks,” Waller said.

“I always blamed the heavy track for her Oaks defeat so it was a worry.

“But she worked well this morning.Hugh Bowman rode her and was rapt. He said she was in the zone.

“I’m glad we did a bit of work with her on Saturday because she has gone from 95 per cent to 100 per cent.

“But I am hoping for a better track than last time.”

Waller came close to scratching Winx from the Chipping Norton Stakes on February 25 when the track was saturated.

She beat Lasqueti Spirit by two lengths without being extended and at her most recent start in similar conditions in the George Ryder Stakes she put 7-1/4 lengths on Le Romain.

Winx had a raceday gallop at Randwick on Saturday which Waller said was designed to blow the cobwebs out, for her and the stable staff.

Her eight rivals include Hartnell, rated in the top 10 horses in the world last year and the $11 second favourite.

The last time Winx was beaten was in the Australian Oaks two years ago this weekend when she ran second to Gust Of Wind.

Winx is at $1.10 to win the Queen Elizabeth but that has not scared punters off with one putting $75,000 on at the price on Tuesday after she came up with barrier three in the nine-horse field.

The mare will go to the spelling paddock after Saturday with her spring campaign already written down in preparation for a third Cox Plate win.

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