Global Weekly Preview: Flemington debut easy for prolific Winx
It is perhaps the ultimate compliment to Winx that the only way she can guarantee a prominent place on the front pages of newspapers in Australia these days is to get beaten.
Winx is a 'winner machine,' and it has got to the point where she is expected to win every time she is saddled for a race, almost as a matter of routine.
If she wins her 21st consecutive race in Saturday's G1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington, she will rate a big mention on the evening news, that's for certain.
But should she be beaten, it will lead the bulletin. It would be bordering on a sporting catastrophe. The weight of expectation is enormous, and it continues to build.
Winx, a daughter of Darley stallion Street Cry, has won 24 of her 30 starts, yet, remarkably, until she lines up in this weekend's Turnbull Stakes, she will never have run in a single race at Flemington, home of the Melbourne Cup and Australia's premier course.
One of the reasons for this, of course, is that she resides in Sydney. But, still, it is quite remarkable that connections have never previously shipped her south of the state border for a Flemington race, though it should be pointed out she has registered wins at Caulfield and Moonee Valley.
It is akin to a champion Test cricketer never having played at Lord's or the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
She faces six rivals this time, two of them so lowly-rated, there have been official calls to bar horses below a specified ratings cut-off level in weight-for-age races.
Her main danger is Humidor, a G1 Australian Cup winner, who recently won the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes. He is a top horse, a Flemington specialist, yet rated 18lb below Winx on official figures.
Hugh Bowman, the regular rider of the champion mare, warned rivals that Winx is even better on her Melbourne leg, a reference to her preference for racing on a left-handed track. So, watch out, those who are expecting her to be less than her best are in for a very big disappointment.
While Winx occupies the spotlight in Australia, a worthy field of 13 fillies and mares tackle the G1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket (UK).
Saeed bin Suroor saddles Arabian Hope, and Andre Fabre the back-in-form Usherette, the two Godolphin contenders in the Sun Chariot.