Champion trainer Chris Waller never made a sound as Winx dashed to greatness in Saturday’s Group I Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
Waller watched his trio of runners, that also included Preferment and Kermadec, in the weighing area alongside racing manager Liam Prior, remaining silent even as Winx exploded clear rounding the home turn.
The multiple Group I winner Criterion made little inroads in the straight as Winx strolled to a 4-¾ length win while shaving more than half a second off the great Might And Power’s 18-year-old course record.
Like many at Moonee Valley, Waller initially wondered what he had seen from the outstanding mare, who had just given him his first ‘major’ to accompany his 53 previous Group I wins.
“It’s special but it hasn’t sunk in,” Waller said.
Waller couldn’t help but draw comparisons with a champion of yesteryear when describing’s Winx’s acceleration as jockey Hugh Bowman swung her through a gap on the inside of The Cleaner at the 500m.
“What I could was shades of Sunline really,” Waller said.
“I could see Criterion coming out of the pack and it’s still a long straight. She had a perfect run and a perfect ride but she’s still only lightly raced.”
Winx’s dominant win brought an emotional response from star Sydney rider Hugh Bowman, who also notched his first victory in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, which sits alongside the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Golden Slipper in the top bracket of the nation’s races.
“All I wanted to be when I was a little boy was to be a jockey,” Bowman said. “To be here riding on this day, to win a race like this I can’t tell you how much it means. I just can’t believe it.
“From the 800 I was very confident but from the 600 when The Cleaner rolled off and I went through I didn’t want to be going that early but sometimes you don’t have choices, you’ve got to take the cards you are dealt and I was on the premium mare that was able to capitalise on the run that I got.”
The Coolmore-owned import Highland Reel raced handy to the speed before fighting strong for third, finishing 5-½ lengths from the winner.
Coolmore representative James Bester said the Aidan O’Brien-trained galloper gave his connections his all in his bid to give the stable its second straight Cox Plate win after Adelaide’s victory last year.
“He’s run a fabulous race but the winner is just out of this world,” Bester said.