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Winx to bypass Apollo for Chipping Norton

Winx’s first start of her campaign has been changed to the Group One Chipping Norton Stakes to ensure jockey Hugh Bowman can ride.

Bowman lost an appeal against a suspension which keeps him out until after the Group Two Apollo Stakes on February 17 which was to be the champion’s first start of her autumn campaign.

The Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) is on March 3 at Randwick and trainer Chris Waller says the mare will have a third barrier trial to ensure she is in tip top condition.

“Hugh Bowman is a very important part of Winx and we feel we can go straight into the Chipping Norton Stakes first-up,” Waller said.

“She races well fresh and we are well ahead of schedule with her, so I will simply give her a third trial to ensure her fitness levels are high enough to compete at her best in this race.”

The Chipping Norton Stakes firmed as her likely comeback race after Bowman’s seven-meeting ban for careless riding was upheld by a Racing NSW Appeal Panel on Monday.

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Bowman had the option to travel to New Zealand on Friday to fight an eight-meeting suspension for careless riding in a bid to be available to ride Winx in the Apollo, but abandoned those plans on Tuesday.

Waller and Winx’s owners could have replaced Bowman and persevered with the Apollo but they chose not to break an ultra-successful partnership.

“Should Hugh have been suspended in the middle or late in the preparation closer to her significant targets we would have opted to use a suitable replacement rider for Winx,” Waller said.

“However, we are in the fortunate position that we can alter her starting point without affecting her main targets this preparation.”

Winx is targeting a third consecutive Group One George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Randwick on March 28 and then an overseas campaign will be contemplated.

Bowman has ridden Winx to 20 of her 26 wins, including all 15 Group One triumphs.

Winx, who won the Chipping Norton Stakes last year and in 2016, is seeking to extend her winning streak to 23.

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