It wasn't meant to be that hard for Winx to score her 18th consecutive victory at Royal Randwick Aug. 19. It was meant to be romp, a routine stretch of the legs to start her campaign.
The idea of the Bob Ingham Warwick Stakes (G2) being easy was finished when the gates open and the world's top-rated turf horse was left five lengths astern of her seven rivals.
There would be nothing routine about the 1,400-meter (about seven furlongs) event Saturday.
Not only did the 6-year-old daughter of Street Cry miss the break, but she smashed into the barrier at the start, which broke the timing device in her saddlecloth. She had to catch up to the field and go around them to win.
"I wasn't nervous. There wasn't anything I could do about it," said jockey Hugh Bowman. "I thought everybody else would be nervous for the first 50 meters, but all I could do was let her get in her rhythm and ride the race. She's just so much better than them, and I had to rely on that to win the race."
Winx tacked onto the back of field and then the pace started to surge as it became obvious that she would have to show her talent to pull off the win. On a day when a howling wind propeled down the straight, no horse had come from last to win. Making up ground seemed nearly impossible.
As stablemate and group 1 winner Foxplay cruised through on the rail at the on top of the straight, Winx was still at least five lengths behind. Bowman sat quietly and asked the champion mare to go through her gears, but he later admitted to having his doubts.
Matching the field's acceleration and making up lost ground, Winx surged down the stretch and outran the field to the finish. The mare's final 600 meters was clocked at :31.98, the fastest seen at Randwick. She crossed the wire first in a final time of 1:21.87.
It was a show of determination, sustained speed, and will to win of a champion.
"She defies logic," Bowman said. "I was thinking it could be mathematically impossible to catch them, but there was nothing I could do about that. I just had to rely on the engine that I know is in her.
"I couldn't take off at the 700-meter (mark) to get closer or I would have run out of gas, so I just had to have confidence in her and ride her to run a race. I wanted her to win as much as anyone else, but after what happened coming out of the barriers, I had to renegotiate where I was, obviously, and it was a concern halfway through, but it was a good feeling the last 200 meters."
For trainer Chris Waller, the victory was a relief.
"Hugh never panicked. When you put the reins in his hands, you know you've got the right man aboard," Waller said. "He realized he had to make up a bit of ground and used the full length of the straight to do it. We know that she is going to get beaten someday, but when it happens you wouldn't want her to have excuses.
"I actually don't think I have had a horse that has gone that fast. It was just an amazing win."
Owned by Magic Bloodstock Racing, Richard Treweeke, and Debbie Kepitis, Winx now has 22 wins from 28 starts with earnings of AU$13,039,175.