Look at those eyes. "Who, me?", they seem to be saying. Yes you, Winx, you beautiful bay mare, you.
This Saturday is a huge day in Australian horse racing. But it's an especially big day for Winx.
From a purist's point of view, the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley is more important than the Melbourne Cup. The Melbourne Cup is an equine marathon which determines Australia's best stayer. But more years than not, the Cox Plate determines our best horse. Last year that horse was Winx.
This year she's defending her crown, and will start a strong favourite. Can she do it? Her trainer -- a likeable Sydney-based Kiwi called Chris Waller who is arguably our finest horseman right now -- admits to a few nerves.
Trainer Chris Waller admits he's feeling the pressure ahead of Saturday's Cox Plate. https://t.co/BjSxKYC8nr— 7Racing (@7horseracing) 20 de outubro de 2016
The last time we here at The Huffington Post Australia told you about Winx, she had won eight straight races -- including last year's Cox Plate which she won by almost five lengths -- and was aiming to win Sydney's prestigious Doncaster Mile. That was back in April, and we called her our best racehorse since Black Caviar.
She won that race, and how. It's worth reliving it. Winx came from near the tail of the field to win dominantly. She's the one whose jockey has a blue cap with a small white pom pom.
Winx had a bit of a spell in the paddock after that. Munched some grass, did what horses do. At her first run back in August, she humbled Hartnell, her main contender in this year's Cox Plate.
Winx has won three times so far this spring. Here's a slightly blurry gif of her beating Hauraki, who subsequently won Sydney's Epsom Handicap in incredible fashion, but is a lesser contender in today's Cox Plate, according to most.
Now here are the closing stages of Winx's latest win. This is where she enters Black Caviar territory, and we don't mean because she's awesome, hugely popular with the public and has amassed a winning streak which is now well into double figures.
We're talking about the way Winx scares other horses away.
This was the Caulfield Stakes. It's a really good race with terrific prize money. But just three horses contested it. You could have entered your pet donkey Pedro* and who knows? Every other horse might have fallen over and you'd have won a bundle.
(*No, obviously you couldn't actually enter your pet donkey Pedro. Poetic license, people.)
But just two rivals showed up in the Caulfield Stakes. Why? Because Winx is Winx, and duly won like Winx. But is she better than Black Caviar? Interesting question, which there's no point calling an expert to answer because it's purely theoretical. Here are some facts to help you decide.
- Raced 25 times for 25 wins. Boom.
- She was a sprinter. All of her wins were between distances of 1000m and 1400m.
- Won 15 times at Group One level, the highest level of racing.
- Won $7,953,936 in prize money.
- Has raced 22 times so far for 16 wins.
- She is a middle distance horse. Her wins have been between 1100m and 2200m.
- Has won 8 times at Group One level, the highest level of racing.
- Has won $7,498,175 so far in prize money.
You can't knock Black Caviar, because she could only beat the horses that were up against her. And when she went to England she was unwell and nowhere near her best, yet still she won -- albeit narrowly -- at Royal Ascot.
But Winx is so durable. She beats all comers at a huge range of distances. She often faces larger fields, which means she's more prone to back luck in the run. But she just wins and wins and keeps winning.
Is she unbeatable? No. Here's a look at her main Cox Plate rival Hartnell comfortably beating Jameka in the Turnbull Stakes this Spring. This win was particularly commanding because Jameka went on to win the Caulfield Cup.
But as we've mentioned, Winx has already beaten Hartnell comfortably this spring in their only clash. If Winx does it again at 5pm Saturday, we might just have to elevate her to "legend" status, or whatever the next level above "champion" is.
Winx was purchased in 2013 at the Gold Coast Magic Million sales for $230,000. She's not a particularly moody creature, but is said to prefer her own company and doesn't really like human attention.
Except for one person. Behind every great racehorse there's a strapper story, and in this case, the strapper is Umut Odemislioglu, who was born in Turkey where he studied acting before he moved to Australia in 2006. Odemislioglu helped picked Winx out at the sales, and says the mare has changed his life. We're happy for both of them.
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