What it’s really like to ride Winx
EVER wondered what it would be like to ride a champion racehorse? Well, wonder no more.
Hugh Bowman gave punters a rare insight into the thrill of riding super mare Winx in a special barrier trial between races at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The world's best jockey had a camera attached to his skull cap to enable punters to go along for the ride on Chris Waller's three-time Cox Plate winner in the crucial hitout as she prepares to kick off her autumn campaign next month.
Bowman and Waller were wired up before Winx headed to the gates for the 1200m trial alongside five stablemates and discussed how the mare was travelling and what they expected from the workout.
"She's very relaxed. We will give her a good workout today," Bowman said on his way to the barriers. "I think we will get a lot more effort. We just might trick her into thinking it's a race."
She didn't disappoint.
Winx jumped well from the gates and sat fourth before Bowman moved her into open space around the turn then set out after the leader, Mackintosh. The mare worked through the gears and dashed away inside the 200m to win comfortably.
It might not have been a race, but Winx showed Bowman enough to suggest she is on track for her first-up assignment in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick on March 3.
"From the 300m she was back to her normal self and that competitive spirit really burned the last 200m," Bowman said.
"It's not the same as a barrier trial. I don't get that feeling in her trials so it was great for her to exercise those competitive juices again."
The trial was so impressive TAB Fixed Odds even adjusted Winx's quote for the Chipping Norton, trimming her odds from $1.15 to $1.10.
Most importantly from Bowman's point of view, Winx's barrier manners have improved from the spring and in two trials and Saturday's "race" she has jumped cleanly.
"The only time I am nervous with her is in the barriers but she has been quiet and calm," he said.
Waller said she would have two more serious gallops before the Chipping Norton to make sure she was kept up to the mark.
'It's all about the recovery," Waller said. "We need to make sure she eats up tonight and keep her ticking over until race day.
"She is a horse who normally does recover well so we're happy."
As a measure of how well she went, Winx recorded 1min10.30sec for her 1200m gallop while the sprinters in the Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes ran 1min10.53sec.
WINX'S NEXT START
Race: Chipping Norton Stakes
Venue: Royal Randwick
Date: March 3
Status: Group 1, weight-for-age