In the end Winx made the $3 million Cox Plate a one-horse race.
The champion mare made it back-to-back wins in Australia’s greatest weight-for-age race: the first in a record time, the second by a record margin.
“It’s a dream, as simple as that,” declared trainer Chris Waller after Winx’s 13th win in a row.
Winx turned what was billed as a showdown with top gelding Hartnell into a one-horse show. She was simply too good.
It was also a dream for part-owner Debbie Kepitis, and the 26,000-strong crowd at Moonee Valley who all seemed to be cheering Winx on.
“My dad (Bob Ingham) once said to win a Cox Plate is an absolute thrill. To win two Cox Plates is an absolute dream.”
Winning three Cox Plates is now firmly on the agenda for Winx.
“She’ll be back next year,” Waller said.
Waller remembers watching – in awe – another champion mare Sunline make it consecutive Cox Plate victories in 1999 and 2000.
Now he is in awe as Australia embraces a new champion, albeit one he knows will never get to the same legendary status as Phar Lap or undefeated sprinter Black Caviar.
“Black Caviar’s freakish – what she did, undefeated, that will never happen again.
“But as the great judges will say generations make champions and I was thinking this morning: Phar Lap, how do you eclipse what he did?
“To be even thought about at that echelon is pretty special.
“Sunline did it for a number of years, constantly at the top. We’re getting there with these two Cox Plates firmly putting her right up there.”
Whether Winx follows Sunline in racing overseas remains to be seen.
“We respect the Australians and they respect her,” Waller said.
“Maybe the world will come to us if we’re good enough.
“Wherever she goes if she’s in that zone we’ll beat anything in the world.”
Henry Plumptre, head of global racing powerhouse Godolphin’s Australian operations, admits to having a sneaking suspicion Winx was that good, even with second favourite Hartnell in top form.
“I mean obviously our camp’s disappointed to be beaten by that far, but is it any disappointment to be beaten by a champion?
“We weren’t unlucky. We were just beaten by an absolute champion.”