It is all about Winx this Saturday at Flemington, as it was on Thursday morning at Headquarters when the turf champion of the world was shown off to the waiting media and put through her final paces before her debut at the track.
Winx was asked by race jockey Hugh Bowman for a three-quarter pace gallop on the steeple grass, which he later said complemented her stronger gallop at the track on Monday morning and would have her ready for her attempt on a 21st victory in a row in Saturday’s Turnbull Stakes.
Trainer Chris Waller agreed, claiming he wouldn’t be able to present the mare in better shape than he will on Saturday.
“To my eye, she’s in great form,” he told reporters.
“Her work’s been good, highlighted on Monday morning by a sharp piece of work, so therefore this morning she didn’t need to do a lot. (It was) a pretty relaxed workout at what we called three-quarter pace.
“Hugh was happy, I was happy, the strapper’s happy and I couldn’t change anything.”
Waller said he felt the weight of expectation that comes with travelling his drawcard.
“There’s obviously a bit of expectation from the people in Melbourne to see her racing,” he said.
“I often get criticised for not bringing her down a bit more often but I’m really happy with the way her career’s gone and really looking forward to her next stage, which I guess you could say is the twilight of her career.
“We’re here for our third year and we’re very proud to be here.
“Everything’s gone to plan and that certainly makes the coach feel a lot better.”
Bowman too lamented the fact that Winx has only raced in Melbourne three times before, but for different reasons.
“In my opinion she actually prefers leading with her Melbourne leg – her near-side,” he said. “She just seems to be more comfortable going through her gears when she’s leading through her near-side.”
As for getting to Headquarters, Bowman said it was a treat to ride at the famous course.
“I think it’s the best track in Australia,” he said. “It’s a very fair racetrack and the best horse wins generally at Flemington most of the time so let’s hope that happens on the weekend.”
The one factor that Bowman hopes Winx does not encounter is a firm track but he said he saw some promise in the skies.
“I see a bit of cloud around here and hopefully we night get a shower of rain before the weekend,” he said.
“She doesn’t need it wet but she does enjoy it more with a bit of moisture in the ground.
“She just moves better and she’s much more comfortable and that’s when we see the best of her.”