Chris Waller and Team Winx will postpone Winx’s return until regular rider, Hugh Bowman, completes his current suspension.
Since her record-breaking third Cox Plate win on 28 October 2017, Winx enjoyed a 12 week break before commencing her current campaign with a 900m barrier trial at Rosehill on 22 January. Under a tight hold from Bowman, she finished 6th in the 9 horse field, which included the likes of Everest hero Redzel, Gr1 Golden Rose winner Trapeze Artist, and David Payne’s Gr1 Victoria Derby and Gr1 Spring Champion star, Ace High.
Winx trialled again on 5 February 2018, going out over 1000m in a 10 horse field at Rosehill, where she finished 5th, in preparation for a return run in the 1400m Gr2 Apollo Stakes at Randwick on 17 February.
However, a series of suspensions for careless riding incurred by Hugh Bowman, who has partnered Winx 22 times for 21 wins, forced the team to reschedule.
Bowman is currently benched until 22 February for a pair of riding offences. The first, incurred aboard Tswalu at Warwick Farm on Friday, 26 January 2018, came into effect on 4 February 2018, and was scheduled to end on 15 February, two days before the champion’s scheduled return.
However, an additional infraction, incurred at New Zealand’s Karaka Million meeting at Ellerslie on Saturday, 27 January, added an additional week to his enforced holiday. When an appeal to Racing NSW officials on Monday, 5 February proved unsuccessful, the team chose to change Winx’s schedule instead.
In a press release issued via social media earlier this week, Waller said, “Following consultation between the owner of Winx and I, the decision has been made for Winx to resume her racing preparation on the 3rd of March in the Group 1 Chipping Norton over 1600m.”
Winx has traditionally launched her campaigns with a 1300 or 1400m prep, but opting for the Chipping Norton Stakes means she will be facing the tough Randwick mile track first time out. However, the team feel it is worth the wait.
“Hugh Bowman is a very important part of Winx and we feel that we can go straight into the Chipping Norton first up without the need to resume in the Apollo Stakes as we had originally planned. She races well fresh and we are well ahead of schedule with her, so I will simply give her a third trial to ensure her fitness levels are high enough to compete at her best in this race. Should Hugh have been suspended in the middle or late in the preparation closer to her significant targets we would have opted to use a suitable replacement rider for Winx, however we are in the fortunate position that we can alter her starting point without affecting her main targets this preparation.”
“I am sure that announcing the decision will be appreciated by all concerned, from industry stakeholders, race clubs and potential replacement riders. We continue to be overwhelmed by the support shown towards Winx and do not take for granted the impact she has on her fans and followers throughout Australia and across the world.”