Every race horse owner, trainer and jockey always hope and pray that there will be that one special horse, the horse that captivates the nation or even on a global scale. We call these not only champions but a â€œOnce in a Lifetime Horseâ€.
When we think of this term, we automatically begin to remember all the champions in the Sport of Kings- names such as the 1930s Melbourne Cup Champion â€“ Phar Lap, Jack Denham’s Â Champion Might and Power, Bart Cummings Horse from Heaven- Saintly, Champion 3yr old So You Think. These horses donâ€™t come along that often but in the modern era, I have been fortunate to witness champions and legends be made with the likes of Makybe Diva- The only horse to win 3 consecutive Melbourne Cups (and female), Global Superstar and Unbeaten Mare Black Caviar only to name a few.
Usually when we get these stars we have to wait many years until another one comes along, however, we have been blessed that since Black Caviarâ€™s retirement we have not had to wait too long at all. This weekâ€™s Winning Wednesday is none other than the current Australian Champion, winner of multiple Horse of the Year awards, Dual Cox Plate Winner, Queen of the Turf and our of course our Hearts- Champion Mare WINX!!
We were lucky enough to catch up with Winx as she takes in her 19th consecutive victoryâ€¦
How did you get into racing?
Well that was predetermined for me long before I had even hit the ground as a fluffy foal. From the moment that my mating plan had been agreed to and my mum booked in for an expensive date with a stud, my destiny was to be a race horse. The only unknowns at this stage would have been will I be a filly or a colt, what kind of foal I would be and if I would be any good on the track (when I eventually got there)
Tell us more about your parents?
My father is none other than the stellar specimen bred by Sheikh Mohammed and winner of the 2012 Dubai World Cup- Street Cry. In his first crop of foals, dad produced the likes of fellow champions Zenyatta- Americaâ€™s sweetheart (the only female winner of the Breeders Cup and winner of 19 of 20 starts only being beaten a nose), along with other stars in his stud career such as Street Sense (winner of the Breedersâ€™ Cup Juvenile, Kentucky Derby, Travers), Melbourne Cup winner Shocking, Whobegotyou and of course ME (I donâ€™t need an introduction!)
Dad unfortunately passed away in 2014 and the sweet age of 16 but his legacy lives on in both his stud sons and successful daughters.
My mum is Vegas Showgirl (Al Akbar x Vegas Magic) was a New Zealand Stakes winning mare trained by Graeme Rogerson and bought by Fairway Thoroughbreds in 2008 as a Broodmare. To date she has produced the likes of me and so far I am her best progeny, however, I do have the following siblings:
A yearling sister from Snitzel who is yet to be named and will not be going through the sale ring. Mum is also currently in foal to champion sire Exceed and Excel. Only to name a few as mum does have progeny overseas as well.
It may seem so long ago, but tell us about your foal hood?
Well I was pretty fortunate to be bred in the picturesque Hunter Valley in NSW and what I think prepared me for the great things I am accomplishing on the track is I was born at the â€œHome of Championsâ€- Coolmore Australia (I mean seriously, have you not seen that place?? Itâ€™s a horse heaven!)
I recall being near mums side and running around the paddock with the other foals but then I also spent a lot of time laying around on the ground so that I could grow and develop- so other than that I donâ€™t really remember much at all- those were the days where I could just be a little filly (that had big hopes and dreams planned for her) – how was I to know that this little filly would reached the heights I have.
As a yearling I was part of the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast (Lot 329) sale draft for Coolmore Stud and the gavel was knocked down at $230,000 to successful bidders Magic Bloodstock Racing, Richard Treweeke and Debbie Kepitis.
Do you know how you got your name?
I sure do! As my mumâ€™s name is Vegas Showgirl my owners named me after a Las Vegas burlesque show from the 1970s and 1980s. I am a bit of a show girl, I sure do love putting on a good show for everyone that comes out to see me. You have potentially seen me in a mounting yard somewhere and at times I can get on my toes (yes horses have toes), also when I get out onto the track and my strapper lets me go, I know it is show time.
It may seem like a long time ago now but tell us about your early racing careerâ€¦
I didnâ€™t have many starts as a two year old, only two infact. I made my maiden debut on 4th June 2014 and won (Warwick Farm). I then had another race and won that to at Rosehill Gardens over my favourite distance of 1400m.
My first big race win came as a maturing 3 year old, I resumed in and won the Group 2 Furious Stakes over the short 1200m at Royal Randwick. I was soon to taste defeat as I was beaten by that spunky mare trained by John Thompson in First Seal, Tea Rose Stakes and Flight Stakes- so I was sent for a break. My 3 year old season was a bit of hit and miss, there were occasions where I was unplaced.
As a 4 yr old, I resumed as favourite in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes and won by only a head to the race outsider but very talented Sons of John (trained by that good looking pair Jason and Lucy Attard at Hawkesbury).
It wasnâ€™t until the 24th October 2015 in which I lined up as the favourite in the most prestigious weight for age race in Australia- the W.S. Cox Plate. That field had some very talented international gallopers and I put them away winning by four and three quarter lengths and in a race record of 2:02:98. This is when the reign of Winx had begun!
And what a roll you are on, what has been the highlights so far?
Oh so many to pick from! Definitely winning back to back Cox Plates (and I hope that I can win a 3rd consecutive- I could be the new Makybe Diva but with this race!).
I donâ€™t know if it is very lady like to say this but the other thing I have enjoyed the most is breaking that good looking horse, Hartnell (Godolphin) heart. That poor bloke is a stunning individual and maybe if we hadnâ€™t been around in the same era he would be a bigger champion but I just canâ€™t help the battle of the sexes and showing him that Females can rule the turf (swinging my head singing Girls Just Want to Have Fun). He is like the modern day Hay List- he always saw Black Caviarâ€™s behind, Hartnell always sees mineâ€¦. Gotta feel for the bloke.
You have just notched up consecutive win number 19- how does that make you feel?
What an amazing feeling, right!!!!! The thrill of giving the rest of the field a head start and then rounding them up is what gets the adrenaline pumping and the flags waving (donâ€™t think I donâ€™t see them waving as I burn up the straight). I am a pretty blessed individual that I have a talent and that I can share it with so many people.
Your last two starts you have given race goers and your fans a scare, tell us more about that?
Oh yeah! Not sure if I should apologise for that as I like showing off (after all my mum is Vegas Showgirl and I was named after a burlesque show). When I watched the replay of my run in the Group 3 Warwick Stakes, I honestly had my heart in my mouthâ€¦. What! What! What! I missed the kick by so much and gave the rest of the field a big start. However, I knew the Hugh would know what to do. I could see my stable mate Foxplay making her move and I knew I had to pull out that signature turn of foot. I couldnâ€™t hear any cheering from the crowd-I think they were all worried today was the day I was going to be beaten. Hugh showed me clear running and off I went, found the line (just).
Then yeah the Chelmsford Stakes on the weekend!!! Not as eventful as the start before but yeah watched the replay, that Red Excitement and Josh Parr really gave me something to run down- even I was scared but I still believed that Hughie and I would fly, I heard Darren Flindell even say he didnâ€™t think I could run the leader downâ€¦ I felt something come over me and I flicked on my turn of foot and took off after them, boy what a run!!! Sorry Josh and Red Excitement.
To what do you owe your success to?
Oh it is absolutely a testament to the people I have around me and making sure that I am happy and healthy. Without people like this I sometimes wonder if I would be a different horse and if I would be as successful as I am- my wins is my way of paying them back for all the faith and long hours they put into making me the best I can be.
Tell us about these peopleâ€¦.
Well obviously there are my faithful owners, you all know Deb (I always make her speechless and crying at the races) and the others of course Magic Bloodstock Racing- they took a big punt on a small filly walking around the sales ring without even knowing what I would develop into so to be able to recoup that outlay and some is such an honour.
The next to be grateful for is of course the man who is tasked with looking after me in the races, Hugh Bowmanâ€¦. Hughie!!!! What can I say about him, he always makes me relax when we head around to the barriers and even during the race, he knows when to let me go and doesnâ€™t even to use his whip to get me going. But you hear from him after races, trials or even my morning workouts.
Then there is my trainer, that kiwi man Mr. Chris Wallerâ€¦.. mmmm what can I say about Mr. Waller???? He is definitely a master and has always placed me well in my races and has always believed in my ability and always does his best to make sure I am happy and healthy. Although not a fan of Waller when he decides to drag me out of my nice warm box with a big bedding of warm hay on those cold winter mornings to be sent out to do track work- thatâ€™s just not cool man and not how we do things here in Australia, oh actually yeah it is, well guess I can forgive him- but it is great making him emotional with my wins, ever seen a man cry- well you have because of me.
But there is a special man in my life and I am forever indebted to, no it is not Hartnellâ€¦.. I canâ€™t say enough good things about my Strapper and constant companion- Umut Odemislioglu. I mean have you looked at that man??? Apart from his strapping good looks he really has a heart of gold and makes sure that I am relaxed, fed, comfortable and a happy healthy horse. He is always there with me in the early hours of the mornings, holding onto my lead when being paraded in front of the cameras.
Umut is one very special person and I thank him for all the hard work and dedication he has put into me- I feel I owe it to him, after all he did leave home at the tender age of 20, travelled around the globe for the love of us equines. His main passion simply to learn more about the racing and breeding game- well he arrives in Australia and I am the girl to make all of his dreams come true.
When I am returning to scale a winner, he is always there to greet me with the biggest smile on his face, a pat and a kissâ€¦.. What more could a woman wish for!
There are current debates about who is the Worldâ€™s Best Race Horse between yourself and Arrogate, what are your thoughts on that?
These debates always seem to occur when there are two champions somewhere in the world. I am not one to comment however, he is a star in America on the dirt and I am a star here on the turf. I do hear the whispers around the barn about if there were to be a match race who would win and I am sure that there are a lot of enthusiasts that would love thisâ€¦. I prefer to let the world rankings do the talking, so we will soon see who the title belongs to.
All I will say is that I am the Thunder From Down Under and I have broken a lot of male equine hearts (sorry again Hartnell) but something tells me in my bones that I will be at that top of the list- I am simply the Queen of the Turf and Australians Hearts.
Anything else you would like to share Winx?
Yes, please keep wearing those blue Winx hatâ€™s that I see and waving the Winx flags- I see all that and I appreciate it so much from the bottom of my big heart. To see so many people pack the grandstands and to see the future of tomorrow (your children) cheering me home is what keeps me going and continuing to do what I do so wellâ€¦.. WIN!
We thank Winx for giving us her time while relaxing after her breathtaking win in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes and we look forward to her next assignment which is potentially in two weeksâ€™ time on the 16th September at Royal Randwick. If you can be sure to get yourself trackside to see a CHAMPION!