When it comes to great racing mares, we’ve been well-served in this part of the world; names like Empire Rose, Sunline, and Makybe Diva come to mind. But as phenomenal as the achievements of those three horses are, they’ve been eclipsed by arguably the greatest mare of all to grace the track in the Southern Hemisphere.
Winx signed off on her remarkable career over the weekend, winning her third consecutive Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick for her 33rd straight win and 37th of her 43-race career, including a world-record 25 Group 1 triumphs. For the last four years of her career she was unbeaten, and far from a one-trick pony winning at distances from 1300m to 2200m.
Amongst that list of wins? She won three races four times including the W.S. Cox Plates – Australasia’s most prestigious weight-for-age race, and four others three times including the aforementioned Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Warwick Stakes which last year was renamed in her honour.
Her career winnings? A mere A$26 million dollars. And as for her induction into Australia’s racing Hall of Fame, well that’s already happened, having been afforded that honour in 2017 and becoming just the third horse to do so while still active.
It wasn’t just that Winx won and kept on winning, it was the way she did it by constantly leaving her rivals well in her wake. As her fame grew so did the crowds, and while her odds on winning shortened. On Saturday she went out paying just $1.06; Hartnell, a fine horse in its own right whose career has been in Winx’s lengthy shadow, was paying $14 as second-favourite.
But what made her so good? Winx wasn’t blessed with a particularly long-stride, measurements have hers as being nearly 2 metres shorter than fellow greats Phar Lap and Black Caviar, but what she had was a faster cadence – 14 strides every 5 seconds compared to the more usual 12 – that has been attributed as allowing her to accelerate at a rate no horse was able to match. It was a quirk that her Kiwi trainer Chris Waller was able to exploit to devastating effect.
The Royal Randwick crowd gave her a standing ovation on Saturday, an accolade that is reserved for only the greatest. She’ll now embark on a broodmare career, and as a daughter of the prolific sire Street Cry and with her own success maybe we have heard the end of her breaking records yet.
But one thing is certain; it will be sometime – if ever – that we see a horse like her again.
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