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Winx wins wet Chipping Norton Stakes

Her trainer admits he came close to scratching Winx from the Chipping Norton Stakes as steady rain drenched Randwick, but the champion has brushed aside the heavy track as if it was her preferred surface.

The seemingly invincible Winx and her laid-back and self-assured jockey Hugh Bowman went through the motions as Chris Waller nervously watched after a soul-searching Saturday afternoon.

But Winx showed why came wide on the turn and moved up on the leader Lasqueti Spirit in the straight to beat the VRC Oaks winner by two lengths and notch her 15th consecutive win and 10th at Group One level.

“I was cursing and swearing early in the day and I came extremely close to scratching her and it’s very much a relief to see her win,” Waller said.

“She’s unbelievable.”

Waller said he was conscious of the public expectation that surrounded Winx but was always mindful of her best interests.

He was reassured after walking the track with curators Lindsay Murphy and Nevesh Ramdhani and put his faith in Bowman and the officials,

“When I went and walked the track, to me it looked pretty good,” Waller said.

“I knew the track was safe, which was the most important thing.”

“There is a bit of expectation with this horse to run her. I didn’t want to see tomorrow’s newspaper if I didn’t run her.

“And in the end not running would have thrown her program out so it was the right thing to do.

“I am so proud of her. She is a beautiful mare.”

“She can’t do much more than what she is doing. She is getting the respect she deserves and you can’t ask for much more than that.”

Punters were aware of Waller’s concerns and Winx eased from $1.10 to $1.22, with Hartnell firming from $7 to $6.50 because of the wet ground.

But he failed to handle it with his customary ease, weakening to run eighth – nine lengths behind Winx.

Bowman said the conditions were not ideal but fair.

“Sure it’s wet but everyone’s getting their chance,” he said.

“It’s just a case of whether your horse can cope with the surface or not. Clearly this mare can.”

“Chris asked me what I thought very early in the day and I thought she’d be fine.

“I think she’d be more comfortable if the surface wasn’t as wet as it is.

“In the final stages when I had the race won, I stopped pushing her. She really idled down and that’s not really her make-up. It’s very rare for her to do that.”

And while Waller’s emotion was relief, Lasqueti Spirit’s trainer, Lee Curtis, was thrilled with the filly’s performance to run second to the champion.

Lasqueti Spirit was a $101 winner of the Oaks in November and was at $151 on Saturday.

“We’re just thrilled with how she’s going,” Curtis said.

“She travelled sweetly and is going really well. We’re excited heading to the BMW and the Oaks.”

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