Equine phenomenon Winx’s farewell tour is coming to a nervous, high-stakes finale that has the racing world on the edge of its seat.
The seven-year-old mighty mare is starting as the impossible $1.06 favourite for Saturday’s George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill in Sydney — where she will again carry the enormity of her 31-race win streak.
The Group 1 $1 million (1500m) weight for age classic is all but certain to be Winx’s farewell race from the Rosehill track — the venue she has called home throughout her career.
It is also expected to be Winx’s second final run after trainer Chris Waller’s declaration earlier this year that the autumn carnival would likely be the bay mare’s final preparation before she finishes her famous career at the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on April 13.
A George Ryder victory will give Winx a record unlikely to be equalled of four successive wins in three Group 1 races, the Cox Plate and Chipping Norton Stakes being the other two.
Waller says the mare is “picture perfect” and admits he is trying to leave emotion out of his team’s preparations for Winx’s final run in western Sydney.
“Rosehill has been her place of training for the majority of her career and it’s where she lives. So it’s her home track,” Waller said.
“It’s very likely it will be her last run here. I think there’s more thought, however, going into the actual race and just preparing her and making sure she’s 100 per cent.
“We’ll get sentimental after the race, no doubt, but at this stage it’s full steam ahead for Rosehill on Saturday which looks to be a great day.
“The Golden Slipper day is always a big day in Australian racing and to have Winx there is an added bonus, I’m sure..
“The beauty of training Winx is that she is effective in all track conditions and we are certainly unsure of how the track will dry out ahead of Saturday’s race but it could well stay in the heavy range.”
Here is everything you need to know about the Aussie racing icon ahead of her final charge to the post.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR WINX?
Winx will start as the short-priced favourite for the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday as the headline race on Golden Slipper day in western Sydney.
If she comes through the race without incident, Waller has said he is aiming to have Winx follow the same preparation she had 12 months ago — which would see her finish her dazzling career at the Group 1 $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on April 13.
Victorian officials have previously spoken publicly about considering one final attempt to try to lure Winx down south for a shot at a freakish fifth Cox Plate during the Spring Racing Carnival, but Waller and Winx’s connections have shown no interest in continuing her career beyond the Queen Elizabeth.
FREAKISH RECORDS AT STAKE
Winx is running for a record fourth George Ryder Stakes win on Saturday at Rosehill. Here is a taste of just some of the records she is pushing for:
— A win on Saturday would be Winx’s 32nd consecutive race win
— A fourth George Ryder Stakes win would give Winx a hat-trick of four-peat Group 1 wins. She has won the last three runnings of the George Ryder Stakes, dating back to 2016. She has also won four straight Cox Plates and four straight Chipping Norton Stakes.
— A win would be Winx’s 24th career Group 1 win.
— Winx has been unbeaten since her winning streak began on May 16, 2015, when she won the Sunshine Coast Guineas.
— She is already in uncharted territory with her 31-race winning streak after smashing Black Caviar’s previous Australian-record mark of 25 consecutive race wins.
— Winx’s career prize money will rise above $23.5 million if she can win the George Ryder Stakes on Saturday. No other Australian horse has ever won more than $16 million in prize money over the course of their careers.
WINX VS BLACK CAVIAR: THE IMMORTAL DEBATE
The greatness of Winx and Black Caviar appears destined to be debated for the rest of time in the same way Michael Jordan and LeBron James are constantly discussed as arguably the two best basketballers to ever play the game. Waller has previously declared Black Caviar the “greatest” we’ve seen, after the short-distance sprinter’s unbeaten career of 25 wins.
Black Caviar trainer Peter Moody has in turn previously said Winx should be considered alongside Black Caviar and Makybe Diva as the greatest Australia has produced in modern racing.
Black Caviar was never beaten in her career, but on simple stats alone, a comparison with Winx appears to be the first time the iconic salmon and black spots colours of Black Caviar would be lowered.
Black Caviar won 15 Group 1 races compared to Winx’s 24. Black Caviar also amassed career earnings of just under $8 million, compared to Winx’s record $23.4 million heading into the Ryder on Saturday.
— with AAP