World Class: Winx earns champion status and eyes greatness

Winx2-360

Winx earned an RPR of 126 in the Doncaster Mile

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Champion trainer Chris Waller has high standards, but his refusal to call stable star Winx a ‘champion’ was bordering on the ridiculous.

On Saturday, choking back the tears, Waller finally gave in. Winx had run the race of her life to win the Doncaster Mile, her ninth straight success, and Randwick gave her a champion’s reception.

Awash with emotion, Waller could hide it no longer. From here on out there could be no more coyness, no more denials and no more underselling. Winx was a champion and now everyone knew it.

She made a mockery of her official handicap mark to win the richest mile race in the world, giving away 6kg (13lb) or more to the second, third and fourth and earning a career best RPR of 126.

Hugh Bowman said she felt uncomfortable on the soft ground, but it didn’t stop her storming past her rivals to land the feature race on the opening day of The Championships by a cosy two lengths.

An RPR of 126 ranks her among the top dozen fillies and mares worldwide this side of the millennium, up with the likes of Gentildonna, Snow Fairy and Sunline. And the timing of the performance was perfect, as Winx-mania could be about to hit fever pitch.

Winx-mania

Aussies fell for Winx after her Cox Plate success in October and the pressure and expectation has been growing ever since.

Now, on the back of winning the big race on day one of The Championships, the star of Australian racing could turn up seven days later for the biggest race of the whole meeting, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes – the richest 1m2f turf race in the world.

A turnaround of seven days would be a step into the unknown for Winx, who is not yet certain to run. If she won it would take her tally to a perfect ten in a row, including seven at Group 1 level and eight in a row against the boys.

Bookmakers are braced to run up huge liabilities on the nation’s favourite should she get the go ahead and from a ratings point of view she now looks untouchable wherever she runs in Australia.

Based on an RPR of 126, once you factor in her fillies’ allowance, you’d be looking for a 130-rated colt to beat her – and with American Pharoah (138) and Golden Horn (132) retired there are currently none of those in training anywhere in the world.

Perfect ten

But ability won’t be the main test Winx faces if she lines up on Saturday. The big question is over her recovery, as she would be turning out quickly after carrying a big weight on ground which was softer than ideal. It will also be her fifth start in just eight weeks and the ground could again turn soft.

If she pulls it off they will be dancing in the streets in Sydney and she will have more than earned a break ahead of a second crack at the Cox Plate in October. But the team will feel the pressure this week as they decide whether to go for ten on Saturday.

She’s currently odds-on to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and she would have upwards of 10lb (roughly five lengths) in hand on RPRs. The question is just the seven day rest between races, although that is also what could make her tenth win so special.

An RPR of 126 should be enough for Winx to finish the year in the world top ten and she may well end up as the top-rated filly or mare on the planet. It’s also worth noting her versatility, as her winning streak spans distances of 6.5f to 1m3f.

Exosphere lame

In the big sprint at Randwick on Saturday reigning sprint champion Chautauqua arrived wide, fast and late to land back-to-back runnings of the T J Smith Stakes.

Fast and late is how he likes to play it, but that doesn’t always earn him the highest ratings and this time he posted an RPR of 120 for his length-and-a-quarter success over Fell Swoop (116).

Despite sitting at the top of the sprinting tree in Australia for the last two years, Chautauqua was sent off second favourite for the 6f contest behind three-year-old Exosphere, who finished only 11th and was later found to be lame on his off fore.

Exosphere remains a promising talent but his list of excuses now includes heart arrhythmia, lameness and the huge draw bias which went against him in the Black Caviar Lightning on his previous start.

Trainer John O’Shea wants to find out the extent of Exosphere’s leg problem before he makes any firm plans for the sprinter, so Royal Ascot plans are on hold.

Exosphere is yet to win an all-age Group 1 but with a peak RPR of 120 he remains capable of hitting those heights.

Chautauqua is still on track for Royal Ascot after a stopover in Hong Kong, where he could face the leading sprinter in the world, Aerovelocity.

TOP OF THE CLASS: Winx 126 Chris Waller (Aus) (Doncaster Mile, Randwick, 1m, 3 April)

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