The expectation with Winx is that she should win. She did that again in the Caulfield Stakes, which started as a Saturday stroll and worked to a crescendo, exactly what Hugh Bowman and Chris Waller had wanted.
The victory moved her record to 12 straight wins, eight of them group 1s, but her biggest test waits in two weeks in the Cox Plate and Bowman was mindful of that.
“I had no expectation about the race other than she would win,” he said.
Waller could only hope things were going to go to plan because by raceday, his work is done. When the pressure went on from the 1000m, Winx was in her element.
“I have Mr Cool, Hugh Bowman, out there with her and she actually handles everything better than I do,” Waller said.
“I feel the public expectation more than the pressure and the last 200 was a lot easier than the first 1800 in that race.
“I got everything I wanted to get out of the race. We go on to the Cox Plate now.
“I think everyone will build on it, that’s what we are here for, the sport. If you can’t build something off this … I think it’s going to be a really good spring carnival.”
So Winx is a $1.90 favourite to defend her Cox Plate crown while Hartnell, a $3 chance, awaits. It will be a serious contest for a serious mare.
“Everything she does is serious,” Waller said. “You will give her a couple of couple of pats and then it’s like: ‘enough of that.’
“She is a bit like that – all business. That’s why she is so good.”
The early part of the Caulfield Stakes was like a track gallop but Winx roared home, clocking 56.83 seconds for her final 1000m, which was as good as any sprinter for the afternoon.
Black Heart Bart, which had led until well into the straight, was left two lengths in Winx’s wake at the post. He Or She was another four lengths away. They were the support act for the champion, who drew applause as she crossed the line.
It was a relief for Waller because of the nature of the contest, which reminded him of a barrier trial.
“She had never won a barrier trial but this was a race,” Waller said. “She is just a superstar and when it comes to things like this – it is very serious. She gets her job done.”
Bowman had to earn his fee, repaying what Winx had done for him on other occasions.
“I wanted her to have a good gallop and that’s why I wanted the pressure to go before the turn,” he said.
“The race actually worked out how I wanted it when Brad [Rawiller on Black Heart Bart] started to build pressure from the 1200m.
“I did get worried for a couple of strides around the turn for about three strides.
“I had to help her there but she has helped me in races before and Chris has helped both of us.
“By the 200m the others were out of carrots and she was just getting going.”
Rawiller believes Black Heart Bart could challenge in the Cox Plate, if he can become the stalker rather than stalked.
“She didn’t trounce us, she was too good on the day but the Cox Plate will be a different race with a different level of pressure,” Rawiller said.
“No doubt my horse is better when he is chasing, so bring it on.
“[Winx] is what she is, the best horse in Australia and she was that today but in two weeks’ time, who knows and my horse is right in it.”