In the mix: Hugh Bowman and Winx after taking the Epsom at Randwick. Photo: bradleyphotos老域名出售备案老域名Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
A dash of Darby Munro will be required from Hugh Bowman to utilise the freakish sprint of Winx in Saturday’s Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, once the weight-for-age championship of Australasia and now taking in the world, where staying power is usually rewarded more than brilliance.
Generally only champion mares and a filly have been able to handle the heat generated from “the school”, around 600 metres out, the famous landmark where the throttle goes down.
A four-year-old mare, Winx has been awesome in recent successes, particularly in the Epsom at Randwick last start, albeit lacking the same demands as the Cox Plate that has found most fillies and mares wanting.
Yes, Pinker Pinker (2011) was an exception in what was hardly a vintage year. Certainly Winx has more horsepower than Pinker Pinker, and Dane Ripper (1997) was very good but not the calibre of those who preceded her on the honour roll: Tranquil Star (1942 and ’44) and Flight (1945-46) followed by Sunline (1999-2000) and Makybe Diva (2005).
Of course, Surround scored in 1976 and was described as “arguably Australia’s best-ever three-year-old filly”.
Despite being inconsistent Tranquil Star had 111 races, most in top company, notching 23 wins plus 32 placings. The mare carried a tag of “quirky – world beater one day and duffer the next”.
However Flight was regarded as possibly the most consistent and versatile of her gender bred in Australia.
Still the credentials of their modern-day counterparts, Sunline and Makybe Diva justify champion, a title that should be bestowed on those better than great.
Like Dane Ripper and Pinker Pinker, Winx had her Cox Plate lead-up in the Epsom and was far more impressive than them, even taking into consideration the two-kilo spread handicap at Randwick.
Also, Sunline won her first Cox Plate after being downed in the Epsom: fourth, beaten under two lengths, but note the weights. Sunline carried 56.5kg and the winner – Allez Suez – 50.5kg.
Obviously, tactics play an important role, possibly more so than other group 1 events. Jack Purtell, a local ace, had a reputation for riding the Valley like his backyard with the knack of moving at the school but leaving enough for the final grind. It gave him four Cox Plates, one less than the Sydneysider Munro.
The late Roy Horton, jockey and gentleman, rode against Munro and George Moore and was a mate of both. “David [Hugh Munro] was the best jockey I had anything to do with and by a long way.”
Munro was before my time and I can’t imagine anyone superior to Moore but Horton never failed to marvel at the saddle genius of Munro.
To my eye, modern jockeys are at least as good as any in my time with Bowman a major contributor. Still he has yet to conquer a Cox Plate, hardly the situation with the strategically superb Glen Boss, particularly Makybe Diva and So You Think (2009).
Surely there was never a turf vision more splendid than Makybe Diva, under Boss, charging around the outside on the turn in her Cox Plate, emphasising the durability required to win. This is a query about Kermadec – his mount on Saturday – as well as Winx.
Can she sustain a long run under the pressure? Bowman figures she can as he chose Winx rather than Preferment, a Victorian Derby winner with no distance doubts, and a stayer that responds to him.
Maybe Bowman looked at the record of the Flemington classic winners in the Cox Plate next season: Dulcify (1979), Tobin Bronze (1966), Hydrogen (1952) and Phar Lap (1930). Possibly it is an easier task for mares, particularly for a hoop with more in common with Demon Darb than the Hugh aspect.
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