In what may well be her last visit to Moonee Valley, Winx has gone out in a blaze of glory, winning an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate.
Widely acknowledged as the best horse Australia has seen since Phar Lap, Winx has beaten European challenger Benbatl by a comfortable two lengths, with last year’s runner-up Humidor another 2-3/4 lengths third.
During her record streak of 29 consecutive wins, Winx has been to Moonee Valley four times and collected four Cox Plates.
The seven-year-old was the crowd and punters’ favourite at $1.24 after starting at $1.18 a year ago when she equalled Kingston Town’s three wins.
Her longer price was in part because of the presence of Godolphin’s Benbatl ($10) who loomed as a serious opponent.
Jockey Hugh Bowman takes nothing for granted and showed his respect for Benbatl, making sure he was in touch with him rather than letting Winx drop back too far.
Bowman made his move on Winx just before turn and picked up Benbatl to steer the mare to a world record on the Flat of 22 Group One wins.
The jockey and Winx’s trainer Chris Waller are measured, controlled men and while it is usually Waller who lets his emotions show, Bowman’s facade cracked a little.
“I can’t believe it,” he said.
“I really felt the pressure this week – more than I have before.
“We were in uncharted territory this week.
“I am feeling emotional but the electricity that came through my body turning into the home straight was something I didn’t just get to feel but hopefully everybody else watching.
“The fact she has been able to do it so many times. I can’t say much more.
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“I’m so proud to be a part of this and so lucky to come across such an amazing athlete.”
Waller had Winx tuned to the minute after a campaign that has been flawless in its execution but said he was a little nervous during the race.
“Going out of the straight the first time I was a little concerned that she was going to be caught three-wide but it all unfolded quite well,” he said.
“The speed wasn’t too strong, if anything they were going a bit too slow. She performs under pressure so that was my only concern.
“I was looking for Humidor to coming off her back and seeing how the others were travelling but she had them covered a long way from home.”
As usual, the trainer deflected praise to his staff.
“They all do great jobs,” he said.
“And all the media and fans, it’s all gone to another level and we’re not trained to do that.
“I’m lost for words. Everybody watching her gets so much pleasure from her, out of her superb ability.
“It’s pretty special. I can’t say much more, I’m gassed. Lucky the horse has got more petrol than me.”
Her part-owner Peter Tighe praised the trainer’s management and skills.
“It’s been four years in a row that couldn’t have gone any better. Chris Waller has got it down pat,” Tighe said.
“He sure knows how to win a Cox Plate, I know that.”
With all the fuss going on around her, the star of the show edged closer to her constant companion, Umut Odemislioglu, who quietly led her away from the 38,000-strong crowd to give her some well-deserved individual attention.