10/22/2016 8:49AM

Winx repeats impressively in Cox Plate


It might well be true that the great Australian 5-year-old mare Winx can do just about anything at this point, but there is nothing she does better than race 1 1/4 miles at Moonee Valley Racecourse.

That is the host course and race distance of the Group 1 Cox Plate, one of Australian racing’s biggest prizes, and Winx won the race for the second year in a row with breathtaking ease, blowing away her main rival, Hartnell, with a move off the final bend and flying home in the $1,120,120 Cox Plate.

Winx won her 13th straight start, and after capturing the 2015 Cox Plate by 4 3/4 lengths, she tallied Saturday by a remarkable eight lengths. Hartnell, left reeling by Winx’s acceleration turning for home, battled on to finish second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Yankee Rose. Vadamos, who slipped through an opening on the inside during the middle stages and attempted to assert control of the race, finished fourth.

Winx, trained by Chris Waller, settled in fifth while kept outside and in the clear by jockey Hugh Bowman, but when Hartnell moved forward to close the gap on Vadamos going into the final turn, Bowman and Winx countered, running just behind and outside the Cox Plate’s strong second choice.

The Moonee Valley course configuration features a tight final turn and a short one-furlong home straight, and Winx has brilliance on the bend that Hartnell can’t match. She accelerated powerfully with a quarter-mile left to run and, with a couple of cracks of Bowman’s crop, straightened for home having drawn far clear of the competition. Racing over a good-to-soft course playing slowly, Winx was timed in 2:06.35, close to four seconds slower than her 2015 Cox Plate clocking.

Winx, by Street Cry, won for the 17th time in 23 starts, and she has not lost since April 2015. Winx has so far raced only in Australia, and Waller said she will target a third Cox Plate win a year from now, but there has been talk, including from Waller following Saturday’s win, of sending Winx to England for Royal Ascot next summer. That would be fine theater, and at this point, when circumstances are at all favorable, Winx has little to challenge her at home.

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