Jockey Hugh Bowman returns to scale on Winx after winning the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick last month.
Jockey Hugh Bowman returns to scale on Winx after winning the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick last month. DAVID MOIR

Winx aiming for sweet 16

Sydney's wonder mare, Winx, will continue her inexorable march to greatness when she chases an extraordinary 16th consecutive win on Saturday at Rosehill Gardens in the Group 1 $1 million George Ryder Stakes (1500m).

Winx's unbeaten streak stretches nearly two years. She continues to rewrite racing history with every win.

She is aiming for her 20th career win in the George Ryder, her 11th at Group 1 level and it a win would take her prizemoney past the $10 million barrier.

But where does she sit as a champion racehorse and when does she deserve inclusion among the all-time greats of Australian racing?

Dominic Beirne, a form expert and student of racing, says a champion racehorses is "one that has won a large number of Group 1 races, and a high percentage of race starts''.

"It is also reasonable to acknowledge narrowly some horses as champion at a certain distance, such as champion stayer Makybe Diva, who otherwise wouldn't qualify by my two measures,'' Beirne said.

"By ranking them, a small number can be considered truly elite, and a second-tier might be called small-c champions.

"Using my two measures, with 15 Group 1 wins and 100%, Black Caviar is ranked number one. When it comes to the number of horses that merit the tag champion, I prefer to acknowledge a handful of horses through history as capital-C champions, and a few small-c champions most decades.''

 

Makybe Diva takes out the 2003 Melbourne Cup with Glen Boss in the saddle.
Makybe Diva takes out the 2003 Melbourne Cup with Glen Boss in the saddle. JULIAN SMITH

Beirne said over the past two decades, Australian racing produced a number of horses that made his criteria for a champion.

"For example, Northerly (19 wins from 37 starts including nine Group 1s) ranks slightly below contemporaries Lonhro (26 wins from 35 starts including 11 Group 1s), Sunline (32 wins from 48 starts including 14 Group 1s) and Might And Power (15 wins from 33 starts including seven Group 1s)," he said.

"Winx ranks similarly to Lonhro and Sunline. If Winx retired tomorrow, I'd consider her in the band of small-c champions - but she's far from finished. On my own ratings, Winx is superior to all those horses I identified above as small-c champions.''

Form guru Gary Crispe, from Racing And Sports, is the official compiler of the Australian Timeform ratings and says Winx is the epitome of a champion racehorse.

She has proved superior to proven Group 1-class horses and has won over a range of distances, which is the definition of a champion, according to Crispe.

"A champion racehorse has superior ability, can overcome adversity and do what other good horses cannot,'' he said.

"Consistency and longevity are also factors in defining a champion. Unbeaten champions like Frankel and Black Caviar are perfect examples of a champion racehorse.

"A champion racehorse will always find a way to win, which is what both those great horses did no matter what they are faced with, especially Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.''

Crispe said Winx rated favourably alongside some of the all-time greats including Black Caviar.

 

Black Caviar coasts to victory in the Schillachi Stakes at Caulfield on October 8, 2011.
Black Caviar coasts to victory in the Schillachi Stakes at Caulfield on October 8, 2011. JULIAN SMITH

"Winx has reached a Timeform rating of 133 - a very high figure for a mare considering Black Caviar on 136 is the equal Timeform top-rated filly or mare in history with European mares Habibti and Allez France,'' Crispe said.

"At 133 she now sits on equal footing with past Australian greats such as Might And Power, So You Think and Gunsynd.

"In achieving that figure she has broken or established several historical records along the way that may never be broken or equalled. She deserves to be regarded as one of the all-time great Australian racehorses.''

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys said Winx had become the sport's No.1 publicity machine.

"A crude barometer I use of the appeal of a race meeting is the number of calls you get from people looking for complimentary admission tickets,'' he said. "When Winx races, the phone never stops ringing.

"Winx has that 'wow' factor similar to Usain Bolt in athletics, Dave Warner in cricket and Johnathan Thurston in rugby league.''

For the record, Black Caviar leads all comers for wins in a row (25), ahead of Gloaming (19), Desert Gold (19), Ajax (18) and Mainbrace (17). Black Caviar also has the record for most Group 1 wins (15).

Ray Thomas

News Corp Australia


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