Nothing could totally overshadow the March 24 renewal of the Golden Slipper (G1) at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, but Winx showing up two races earlier on the same card does provide the cherry atop one of Australia's best race days.
Winx, the super mare and toast of Australia, will bid for her 24th straight win and 17th overall at the group 1 level when she faces five rivals in the The Agency George Ryder Stakes (G1) at 1,500 meters (about 7 1/2 furlongs). And there's no reason to think the 6-year-old daughter of Street Cry won't dominate again in her second start of the season as she tries to win the George Ryder a third straight year.
In her first start back off her third straight Cox Plate (G1) victory in October, Winx blasted down the stretch to take the TAB Chipping Norton Stakes (G1) March 3 by seven lengths without much encouragement from jockey Hugh Bowman.
Her highest-rated rival in the George Ryder is Happy Clapper, a 7-year-old Teofilo gelding who has had a nice view—from behind—of six Winx wins.
And Winx's chances weren't hurt when Bowman was cleared to climb back aboard after he passed a concussion protocol required following a recent spill. He worked Winx without incident March 22 and reported, "She's as good as she looks. She felt nice and strong this morning and ready to go on Saturday."
Winx does find a new rival in her bid for 24 straight wins in Godolphin's promising 3-year-old colt Kementari, winner of the Mostyn Copper Group Randwick Guineas (G1) in his last race.
"We couldn't be happier with him," Kementari's trainer, James Cummings, told Racing Post. "We've got our feet firmly on the ground about how far behind in achievements and worldwide ratings he is off (Winx). But, nevertheless, he's a rising star, and this is the main lead-up race that he needs for the (group 1) Doncaster (Mile, April 7)."
Kementari is a Darley-bred Lonhro colt out of the Redoute's Choice mare Yavanna. He's undefeated in three starts during his fall campaign.
The others in the George Ryder are Clearly Innocent, Crack Me Up, and Invincible Gem.
After the George Ryder, Winx's connections face the most momentous decision of her career: whether to stay home and bask in their glory, or to take the mare to the rest of the world to see how she stacks up. Royal Ascot could beckon.
If she does travel to England, Winx will have company. Redkirk Warrior, winner of the Lexus Newmarket Handicap (G1) at Flemington March 10, already is ticketed for Royal Ascot with an intervening stop in Hong Kong for the Chairman's Sprint Prize (G1) April 29. So, too, is Merchant Navy, third in the Newmarket. Trainer Aidan O'Brien is looking forward to saddling Merchant Navy—now owned by Coolmore but leased back to his previous owners—in June.