Winx makes it fantastic number 14 in Group 2 Apollo Stakes

Champion mare Winx makes it 14 consecutive wins when taking out Monday’s Group 2 Apollo Stakes

THE first-up fears connections of Winx had before Monday’s Group 2 Apollo Stakes were quickly put to bed as the champion mare made short work of a quality field at Randwick.

The two-time Cox Plate winner made it 14 consecutive victories in Australia when scoring an effortless Apollo Stakes win over Hartnell, which again had to finish second behind the Chris Waller-trained mare.

Winx closed at $1 on the tote, but the punters which snapped up the -117.65 with would have been cheering the mare home as Hugh Bowman cuddled Winx into the straight before effortlessly putting lengths on the field.

Hartnell chased gamely, but Winx was never out of second gear and it cruised to the line hard-held as the sizable crowd cheered the champ home.

“We’ve come to have a healthy respect for her, as does everyone that watches her,” Bowman said. “It’s great to be a part of it, she’s great for our industry.

“She’s a racehorse, she’s an athlete and she wouldn’t be here if she was poking around at home. Chris has done a great job in getting her to perform at this level today.

“She’s an exciting piece of work and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.”

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Bowman as Winx was slow to get into its work when the barriers opened. There were a few nervous moments for punters, but the champ quickly found an ideal position outside Ambience and the rest is history.

“She didn’t jump into stride, but she gets a bit fractious in the barriers when she’s fresh,” Bowman said. “She was very slow away when she won the Doncaster, but as she gets into her preparation she gets more relaxed.

“It was a genuinely run 1400m. I was concerned about a really slow pace, I could have found myself in a sticky position, but with a genuine speed I was able to travel really comfortably throughout.

“They left me a little flat footed when the pressure went on at the 600m and if I was on anything else I might have been worried. I just encouraged her to pick up the ones in front, get the tail of Tye Angland (Endless Drama) and within a blink of an eye it was all over.”

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The winning time wasn’t overly impressive, but Winx has never been a record setter and Hugh Bowman took a cautious approach to answering whether it had come back stronger this campaign.

“I don’t feel that she’s strengthened up as much between the Cox Plate and now, as she has between now and the last two preparations,” Bowman said.

“Chris might have a different view to that. I don’t get into the nitty gritty, I just ride her.”

Waller paid credit to the riding skills of Bowman, who Waller described as “Mr Cool” despite having the weight of the nation watching the unique Monday running of the race.

“Hugh just does a fantastic job, he’s Mr Cool,” Waller said. “He just makes it look easy, it’s not that easy, there’s a field of 14 horses…not with the same acceleration or brakes that a car has, he’s got to maneuver her and get her out at the right time and let her unleash and he just does an amazing job.”

Waller was concerned about racing fresh up as the five-year-old has yet to win a trial, but Winx produces the goods on the big occasion.

“You just need to know where they are at. She’s no faster than any other horse on the training track, so the stop watch days with her you throw it out the window,” Waller said.

“It’s just making sure she’s safe.”

Waller is preparing for the day when Winx’s winning streak comes to an end, but until then the master trainer will continue to enjoy the spoils.

“There will be a day when it’s not quite there. There might be another champion come along and takes her mantle, we’re prepared for that,” Waller said.

“But we’re certainly enjoying it while it lasts.”

Winx will be looking to extend its winning streak to 15 in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick on February 25.

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