Happy to keep chipping away at Winx
THE only time Hugh Bowman felt Winx was in danger of losing a race during her famous winning streak was against Happy Clapper.
It was in the 2017 Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick, where she wasn't her usual self between the 800m and 400m, while Happy Clapper was travelling much better and a few lengths ahead.
"She just didn't travel at all," Bowman said.
The champion eventually knuckled down to defeat Happy Clapper by 1¼ lengths. That was also the last time she wore ear muffs in a race.
But Happy Clapper's trainer, Pat Webster, said his horse would be "on track if he runs second to her" in Saturday's Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick.
Winx's stablemates are set to fill up just about the rest of the field. Aloisia and Tavago were the only two other non-Chris Waller runners nominated for the $600,000 race.
Tavago's co-trainer, Trent Busuttin, said the 2016 ATC Australian Derby winner was fit and ready to return to racing after 18 months out.
But Busuttin is worried about what Winx could do to his horse.
Tavago finished six lengths behind Winx in the 2017 Chipping Norton Stakes and he loves racing at Randwick, but the champion does embarrass her rivals much of the time.
"It sounds silly because it's not like he'd get within a few lengths of her at the best of times, but having a horse come back off a long break, you don't want to look silly," Busuttin said.
"There's every possibility he'd get tired and run last, but it would be magnified if he ran 100m last with the whole world watching the race."
Busuttin said Winx was the best winning chance he's ever seen in racing.
She's a $1.10 chance with Ladbrokes and once the final fields are released shortly after 10am on Wednesday the big bets are expected to roll in once again.
Winx has won 10 times in 11 starts at 1600m and is looking to equal Tie The Knot's feat of four Chipping Norton wins.
Busuttin said it was simple to sum up the champion.
"She's just faster than them," he said.
"I wouldn't imagine I've seen one (bigger certainty in racing). She's the best thing going around and something has to go terribly wrong for her to get beat."
The predicted dry weather leading up to the race is what may tempt Busuttin to avoid Randwick on Saturday and run Tavago in the Blamey Stakes at Flemington, but punters are expected to see the Group 1 winner at some point during the autumn carnival in Sydney.
"If he can stay sound he'll be in for a good preparation and we'll be up in Sydney at some stage (if he doesn't run there on Saturday)," Busuttin said.
"They don't fluke winning Derbys."