Bowman: ‘It is going to be one helluva race’
THE bookies have Winx at unbackable odds but her rider, Hugh Bowman, believes the mighty mare faces one of the toughest tests of her career in the Group 1 $4 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
"On form alone, it's probably the hardest task she has had for quite some time and when I say that, I mean a couple of years - probably her first Cox Plate (2015),'' Bowman said. "It is going to be one helluva race.''
He was speaking at Rosehill trackwork on Thursday morning, when he rode Winx in a strong piece of work wide out on the course proper.
"She's in great order and I'm really happy with how she has come through the George Ryder win," he said.
"Her work here on Tuesday morning was absolutely outstanding.
"I enjoy the morning trackwork the most because it's a time when it's just me and her. I can feel all the power. I get to let her extend and there is no pressure."
But Bowman knows he is a man under pressure on Saturday as Winx attempts her 25th consecutive win to equal Black Caviar's record.
Winx is a $1.15 TAB Fixed Odds favourite for Sydney's richest race of the autumn carnival, with Humidor next at $12, Gailo Chop at $14 and Happy Clapper at $15.
"Usually there is one main horse to be focused on as opposition, but this week there is three or four or maybe even five that are primed for their target,'' Bowman said.
"They are over a suitable distance and racing in the form of their lives.
"If Gailo Chop is allowed to control things to his liking, he will take some running down. If the pressure is right on, he might be feeling the pinch from the 200 to 300m mark. But if that's the case, a horse like Humidor or Ambitious, who I thought was very impressive in the Tancred Stakes, will be capitalising on the genuine pace.''
Bowman said it was important he judged the pace right early in the race.
"I want to have Winx close enough if they go slow, but not too close if they go fast,'' he said.
"I don't want to over-analyse it, but the bottom line is that there are horses there, no matter how it is run, that are going to perform very, very well."
Winx starts from the outside barrier in gate 10, which Bowman countered "is better than barrier one".
"If I could have had my pick I would have chosen four to six, similar to last year, but it is what it is," he said.
"The reason I ride her a little differently to most horses is that she has more of an engine than most horses.
"It comes down to judging the speed of the race and having her comfortable and if she's comfortable, we've all seen what she is capable of doing. The quicker the race is run, the more comfortable it is for me because she relaxes very well.
"The more of a test it is, the better she performs because her cruising speed is so much higher than any other horse that I've ever had anything to do with.
"If they go fast from the outset, it really plays into her hands. However, if they don't go fast and it develops into a sprint home, she is capable of overcoming that, too."