Jockey Hugh Bowman has ridden Winx to her 33rd win in a row, but says she’s just a good horse.
No, Hughie, she’s not just a horse.
After Winx put on a typical show to close perhaps the greatest career in Australian horseracing by storming home to her 33rd consecutive win, jockey Hugh Bowman for once got it wrong.
“At the end of the day, she’s just a horse, she’s a good one, but she’s just a horse,” he said.
Minutes earlier, for one last time, she showed she was anything but.
She gave the sell-out 43,833 crowd at Royal Randwick just the finish they wanted when she responded to their deafening roar on the home straight to haul in Kluger and win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday.
And a few hundred who couldn’t get a ticket lined the footpath on Alison Road peering through the fence at history.
In doing so, the seven-year-old mare won a world record 25th Group One race, became the highest stakes earner in global racing history with more than $26 million and finished a career that featured 37 wins from 43 starts, matching Phar Lap’s Australian record.
She’s had a race named after her, a stamp honouring her, was only the third horse inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame while still running, is rated the best racehorse in the world and even Randwick was renamed Randwinx on Saturday.
Not just a horse.
The streak that started on the Sunshine Coast in 2015 has lasted nearly four years and nearly always executed with a peerless burst of acceleration and an apparent human-like obsession with winning.
Trainer Chris Waller in his usual lip wobbling emotion after the race said Winx has that rare ability to bring people together, and not just in Australia.
“Whether she won or not won, she still would’ve been the great horse that touched our lives and changed our lives,” Waller said of the horse whose win also brought up his 100th Group One victory.
No Hughie, she’s not just a horse.
And you need to be more than “a good one” to earn the ovation and adoration Winx received at Randwick on Saturday.
Bowman stood out of the saddle and raised his arms to salute the full throated crowd in the members stand and then took her on a final farewell sprint down the straight for the masses of ordinary punters who came to say goodbye.
Waller joined them on the track for an embrace with both horse and jockey, capturing an image of the three most successful identities in contemporary Australian sport.
“What a journey it’s been, it’s hard to believe it’s the end actually,” Bowman said.
Winx, unlike so many human athletes, has been able to end the journey on her terms.
Bowman said during the week she’s “bigger and stronger and more enthusiastic than she’s ever been”, while Waller has been waiting for the past 18 months for the mare to show signs of wanting to stop racing.
“She hasn’t,” Waller said.
Sorry Hugh, she’s not just a horse.
She is probably the greatest horse of all.