02/22/2017 2:48PM

Australia: Winx goes for 15th straight win


Winx, the reigning Australian Horse of the Year, will be a massive favorite to win her 15th consecutive start in Saturday’s Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes against males at Royal Randwick Racecourse, outside of Sydney.

A 6-year-old mare by Street Cry, Winx began her winning streak in May 2015. The sequence includes nine Group 1 wins, including the 2015 and 2016 Cox Plate, Australia’s leading weight-for-age race.

Trained by Chris Waller for a partnership that includes Magic Bloodstock, Winx won the Group 2 Apollo Stakes at seven furlongs at Randwick on Feb. 13, a race delayed two days because of hot weather. Winx’s winning streak equals the longest streak of the mighty Phar Lap, the star of Australian racing in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

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Earlier this year, Winx was recognized as the leading turf horse in the world in rankings compiled by a panel of racing officials from the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities. The American dirt horses Arrogate and California Chrome led the list with ratings of 134 and 133. Winx was given a rating of 132.

Winx won the 2016 Chipping Norton. She is part of a field of 10 in Saturday’s race, which is worth $461,000 and run at about a mile. Winx was as short as 1-9 with bookmakers for the race on Wednesday.

Her most prominent rival is the multiple stakes winner Hartnell, a 6-year-old gelding who was second to Winx in the 2016 Cox Plate and in the Apollo Stakes earlier this month, and third in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup at two miles at Flemington Racecourse in Australia in November. Winx has never run in the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most famous race.

American horse in Qatar stakes

Royal Albert Hall, third in the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland last April, is the lone American-based runner in Saturday’s $1 million Emir’s Trophy at 1 1/2 miles on turf in Qatar.

Trained by Doug O’Neill, Royal Albert Hall was third, beaten a half-length, in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on Jan. 2, his most recent start. As a 3-year-old in 2015, Royal Albert Hall was second in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby and third in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita.

Alan Garcia will ride Royal Albert Hall, who is part of a field of 16. Royal Albert Hall is owned by Steven Keh, Scott Knight, Mike Ryan, and Mark Verge.

Other contenders include Arab Spring, who won two Group 3 races in England last year; Now We Can, who was second in a Group 2 in France last year; and the locally based multiple stakes winner The Blue Eye.