Cruise control: Hugh Bowman and Winx romp home in the Warwick Stakes. Photo: bradleyphotos上海m.auChris Waller is once again preparing for the longest couple of minutes of the week, when Winx heads out for Saturday’s Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick.
Winx has become a champion for the premier trainer but jockey Hugh Bowman believes the best is still to come from the Street Cry five-year-old.
Even though she has won her past 10 races, including five group 1s, Winx has improved with every preparation.
At a Melbourne Cup function on Monday, Bowman labelled her physically immature when she broke the track record in the Cox Plate and said she is still improving, which is remarkable given her five group 1 wins, including a Doncaster Mile victory.
“She was a stronger animal in the autumn and she is stronger now,” Bowman said. “She is a mature mare now. In fact, she was quite immature when she won the Cox Plate.
“In my humble opinion, I think she is a better horse now and I think she’s moving better this preparation than she was last preparation.
“She has strengthened up. Her attitude has developed as well. She is a very focused individual, which I like, and she feels like the finished product.”
Bowman admitted it is hard not to become caught up in the hype surrounding Winx, but it is that time on the way to the barriers where she helps him.
“I was nervous going into the race and there is an element of excitement and anticipation to say the least,” said Bowman of her return in the Warwick Stakes.
“She gives you the ability to relax when you go out on her the way she feels.
“Once I had the mare comfortable [in the race] it was really all over from the 1000-metre mark. What was impressive was she was able to sit up on the pace and be so relaxed and calm.
“I don’t think that is something she would have been able to have done in previous preparations. To me it just shows that next step of maturity.”
Waller described what it is like to have the best mare in the world going out on the track.
“You just try to keep yourself busy during the day because it is a normal race day, but before she races it is the longest two or three minutes of the day,” Waller said.
“For the first half of the race she is like any other horse and I am just waiting for that final 200 metres, like everyone else, to see her under pressure and that acceleration.
“I’m just desperate to see that last 200 metres and see her forge clear and to have an uninterrupted path in the race.
“And hoping there aren’t too many challengers, and most time there aren’t too many.”
Waller will supply five of Winx’s seven rivals in the mile on Saturday and they are on their way to staying events later in the spring.
“It is part of their preparations and think that horses like Storm The Stars and Spiritjim, which are in their second preparation over here, are ready to take another step as they return,” he said.
Waller is starting to get the feeling that Peter Moody had when Black Caviar went through her unbeaten career, but he pointed to one difference between the pair.
“The difference between Winx and Black Caviar is that she has been beaten,” Waller said. “We have tasted defeat with Winx, although it has been a very long time since it happened. We know the feeling and it hurts.
“We have to be mindful that day will come again and we’re enjoying her for what she is and that is an exceptional horse.”