Sports: Superstar mare Winx joins Black Caviar at racing’s peak

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The Irish-bred champion mare has become the toast of Australia after she tied the legendary Black Caviar with her 25th straight victory, winning the $3.1 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Sydney’s Randwick racecourse in a dramatic fashion at the weekend.

The last out of the start gates, the six-year-old bay thoroughbred and her jockey, Hugh Bowman, took the lead 200 meters from the finish line as she easily moved around the ten-horse field on the outside.

“I’m lost for words,” Bowman told reporters after Winx obliterated the field to finish almost four lengths clear of Gailo Chop to become the first mare to successfully defend the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

“She’s just an exceptional athlete, she creates so much attention, I’m just so elated, I’m so proud of her and I’m just so proud to be a part of it,” Bowman added.

‘Best horse in the world’

“This is the most amazing day,” co-owner Peter Tighe told reporters. “This is the best horse in the world, with the best jockey in the world and the best trainer in the world. It seemed the world was on our shoulders today. She just makes us prouder every time she goes around.”

Winx’ victory was her 18th Group One triumph, and 29th overall. She has earned her owners prize money of close to $15 million.

It compares well to the record of fellow Australian legend Black Caviar, the mare whose unbeaten 25-race streak between 2008 and 2013 included 15 Group One victories. A two-time Australian Horse of the Year, she won close to $6.2 million in prize money during her career.

Aussie superstar

Winx’ pursuit of greatness has captured the imagination of Australian media and racing fans alike, with her 25th victory making the front and back pages of most newspapers.

“Mighty mare Winx equals the great Black Caviar,” headlined the Sunday Sport. “InWinxable. The day a champion became an immortal,” wrote the Sunday Telegraph.

“Winx. Wow. That was like Usain Bolt running against 10 yr olds. Bowman used the whip twice,” tweeted Alex Smith, a former Australian soccer player.

Phar Lap

Last month, Australian sports commentator Bruce McAvaney compared Winx to human sporting superstars Roger Federer, Usain Bolt and Tiger Woods, saying the mare should be rated alongside the legendary Phar Lap as the greatest racehorse in Australian turf history.

Phar Lap claimed 37 wins from 51 starts, including the 1930 Melbourne Cup. The horse, who rose from humble beginnings in New Zealand during the Great Depression to become an international racing sensation, is one of Australia’s most popular horses.

“It is tricky…to compare them with the great sports people but with a thoroughbred it also relies on their mental strength and the ability to perform on the big stage,” McAvaney told the Australian Daily Telegraph.

“Winx has shown that time and time again. She has had to overcome extraordinary difficulties in her races at times. Obviously she has enormous ability, is beautifully trained and is well-ridden which I feel has been the absolute key to her,” he added.

No overseas trip

Sadly for her international fans, Winx won’t be racing outside of Australia this season.

Although British racing officials had lobbied to bring the Australian superstar mare to their shores, her co-owners Peter Tighe, Debbie Kepitis and Richard Treweeke, decided against it last month.

In a statement to the media, Winx’ trainer, Chris Waller, said that although the Royal Ascot carnival in Britain in June “is one of the greatest in the world and would provide Winx the opportunity to be showcased on a global stage, the long plane journey and change of seasons wouldn’t be in the “best interest” of the mare.

Records left to break

Still, there are plenty of records left to break for the world’s equal-highest rated racehorse, who was sired by Irish stallion Street Cry.

Winx is now just four wins away from tying the recently retired Irish hurdler Hurricane Fly, a dual winner of the Champion Hurdle who won a world record 22 Group One victories.

Next up, a likely crack at trying to win the prestigious Cox Plate in Melbourne in October for a record fourth time.

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