FOR a few strides Winx looked to be in trouble. Hugh Bowman was urging her along and the mare seemed to struggling to stay in touch.
But the moment passed as quickly as Winx accelerated. Suddenly she was surging. The champion mare switched into overdrive and swept home in the Group 1 $500,000 George Main Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
And everyone watching around the nation, those on course, in pubs and clubs, in lounge rooms, breathed a collective sigh of relief. The winning streak continues - this was her 20th consecutive win.
Maybe Winx is toying with our minds like she is toying with her opposition.
Maybe, she is waiting for the final 400m, waiting for the urgings of the Randwick crowd to reach a crescendo, and waiting for that winning post to come into sight.
Because when the race is there to be won, it is when Winx is at her supreme best.
A relaxed trainer Chris Waller wanted to enjoy the moment rather than over-analyse the win.
"I'm not too worried about how she was travelling in the race, let's just Winx for who she is - true champions normally come out and win," Waller said. "It's great Sydney have embraced her."
And Winx win did - easily on the line. The great mare, sent out $1.12 favourite, was slow away, settled back in the field, was standing the leaders 10 lengths at the 600m yet she accelerated so quickly from the top of the straight she sprinted past Happy Clapper ($15) to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths with nearly five lengths to Foxplay ($21).
Her jockey Hugh Bowman even stopped riding her 50m out as the mare cruised clear of her chasing rivals - but he did admit to some tense moments mid-race.
"I wasn't worried but she didn't travel into the race like we are accustomed to which surprised me," Bowman said.
"But once she got a sense of where she was and what she needed to do, she just cuts in and accelerates - it is like she is on auto-pilot. She picked up Happy Clapper in about two strides."
Bowman conceded Winx may not be as comfortable on the firmer tracks but pointed out she has gain run brilliant time - she ran the 1600m in a race record 1min 33.65sec.
Winx broke a few records as well including:
- WINX'S 20th successive win takes her past the 19 wins straight of Desert Gold, Gloaming and American mare Zenyatta. Only undefeated Black Caviar with 25 wins has won more races in succession.
- SHE became the first mare to win successive George Main Stakes - and the first to achieve the feat since the legendary Kingston Town (1981-82).
- WINX scored the 13th Group 1 win of her career, equalling Sunline's record and trailing only Black Caviar (15) and Kingston Town (14) for most majors.
- HER prizemoney increased to $13.47 million, trailing only Makybe Diva who won $14.52 million.
Waller indicated Winx is most likely to have one more start in Sydney this spring, the $500,000 Craven Plate (2000m) at Randwick on Everest Day, October 14.
"I'd say she will have one more run up here then at some stage she will head to Melbourne," Waller said.
"We will lock it in next week and let everybody know what we are doing. It's not a guessing game. The horse comes first. She will tell me."
Waller said he believes Winx is "spot on" for her attempt to equal Kingston Town's record of three Cox Plates.
"She is ready for it," he said.
"Her first Cox Plate she won it off three runs. Next Cox Plate she won it off four. She will probably run in it off a fifth run. It's our job to protect her and the public continue to enjoy."
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