Sport Racing ‘In a league of her own’: Incredible Winx wins fourth Cox Plate
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‘In a league of her own’: Incredible Winx wins fourth Cox Plate

Winx fouth Cox plate
"In a league of her own": Winx passes the post for her fourth Cox Plate. Photo: Getty
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Whoever said repetition was boring must never have seen Winx.

For the fourth successive year, a packed-to-the-rafters Moonee Valley crowd roared Winx to an historic Cox Plate victory.

With victory came a series of records, like a 29th successive victory, 22 Group-1 triumphs in a row and another $3 million in prize money. But Winx’s legacy will be the impact she has had on the Australian public.

Television ratings when she runs are huge, attendances soar and those with even a passing interest in racing come to a stop.

Perhaps Winx’s popularity was best shown by the fact Victorian cricketers – many of whom are desperately fighting for a spot in the out-of-sorts Australia team – asked for the race to be shown on the big screen as they fielded during a Sheffield Shield fixture against New South Wales at the MCG.

They got their request, too, huddling together at the end of an over to watch the mighty mare stroll to victory.

In an eight-horse race, Winx was never going to struggle for room, and jockey Hugh Bowman steered her into a good spot in the early stages, as Kings Will Dream dropped out altogether.

Rostropovich and D’Argento did most of the work up front but Bowman was leaving nothing to chance, making his move with 600 metres left and taking the lead before they turned for home.

That meant there was no danger of a close call – a feature of Winx’s winning run – as the champion saw off the challenge of Benbatl to claim a record fourth Cox Plate in a row, eclipsing Kingston Town’s set of triumphs in 1980, 1981 and 1982. Humidor finished third.

“I am feeling emotional but the electricity that came through my body when I turned into the home straight was something that I guess I only get to feel but everyone watching … oh, I don’t know. I’m lost for words,” Bowman said.

That electricity Bowman mentions means anyone lucky enough to see the race live will never forget it. 

It was a roar and a half, and it kept going past the winning post, as delirious punters – most who probably did not even back Winx given her short odds of $1.22 – just celebrated a feat of equine brilliance.

Some punters did pile in to Winx at those odds, though, with one placing $201,200 on Winx with the TAB. The return was $44,264 – not bad for two minutes and three seconds of racing.

Winx’s trainer, Chris Waller, said afterwards: “I was looking for Humidor coming off her back and seeing how the others were travelling but she had them covered a long way from home.”

But perhaps the most telling comment was made by Seven Network host Bruce McAvaney, who tried to put into context the “hold” Winx has over the nation.

“I have been following racing for 60 years. I’ve never known a day like this, a build-up like this. It’s remarkable,” he said.

The Bruce McAvaney Winx compilation

‘The impossible becomes possible’

Racing Victoria broadcaster Matt Hill, who called Winx to victory, told The New Daily that the horse is simply “as good as they come”.

“With four Cox Plates, it’s never been done before and to be fair, I don’t think anyone thought it would have ever been done,” he said.

“So for her to do it, it’s almost the impossible becomes possible. And for that reason, she is as good as they come.

“Winx, she’s one of those horses that has got to the stage where she is unbeatable – she’s quite miraculous, really.

“She’s the best I’ve ever seen, no doubt about that.”

Sky Racing’s Darren Flindell, who has called Winx to many of her wins in Sydney, was also on track.

“She’ll be recognised as the greatest of all time in Australia,” he told The New Daily.

“The Cox Plate is one of the most revered races in Australia, so to achieve that four times … it’s the absolute pinnacle.

“She’s just got an amazing will to win and this incredible ability that she can come from out the back of a fast-tempo race like any good horse can, but she can come from out the back in a slow-run race too. 

“There’s been many times it’s looked like she’s on the verge of defeat in certain races, but she just always comes through.”

And what about the field size?

With only eight horses competing in the Cox Plate, some had suggested Winx’s achievement was slightly diminished.

Hill and Flindell strongly disagree, though.

“Some of the best Cox Plates have been small fields,” Hill said.

“Just because Usain Bolt beat seven other runners only [in an Olympics final] doesn’t mean he is not the best!.”

Flindell added: “She is racing the best available horses … she’s in a league of her own. Most horses just don’t bother turning up for the humiliation.”

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