Global Weekly Preview: Moonee Valley: Tiny suburban track with crowd-pulling appeal
It is another busy weekend on the international front, with several nice types for next year contesting Saturday's G1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster (UK) as well as two opportunities in France to stake a Classic claim, in Sunday's G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud and G1 Criterium International.
Big names are also preparing for 'Destination Del Mar,' with two days of the Breeders' Cup scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
But despite this activity, there is no doubting the biggest talking point of the weekend concerns an equine superstar, who has won fans at every turn as she has put together a stunning collection of victories that mark her already as an Australian racing great.
At tiny Moonee Valley, with its circumference of 1805m and a home straight of just 173m, Winx will be aiming at her 22nd consecutive win and a third Cox Plate.
Putting it in perspective, only one horse in the race's 95-year history, Kingston Town, has ever been able to pull off the treble in Australia's premier weight-for-age contest. More than half a dozen had the opportunity to become triple winners but blew it.
Charlie Appleby is very happy with the Godolphin runner Folkswood but is the first to acknowledge the gelding with have to produce a career best to get anywhere near Winx, even if she doesn't run to her high rating.
Hugh Bowman on Winx, up against Kerrin McEvoy on Folkswood, in a relatively small field, has all the makings of a tactical battle of note.
Moonee Valley, where racing first took place in 1883, is situated adjacent the Tullamarine Freeway (road to the airport), less than five miles from Melbourne City Centre.
The intimate atmosphere created by the compactness of the track has appealed to racegoers for many years.
Winx is certain to draw a capacity crowd, which in these days of health and safety, is just over 40,000.
But when Tobin Bronze won the 1967 Cox Plate, on his final Australian run before embarking on a career in the United States, there were over 50,000. When Bonecrusher beat Our Waverley Star in 1986, perhaps the most exciting race at the Valley in the modern era, there may have been even more in attendance.
Moonee Valley will again be the focus of the racing world as Winx tries for another slice of racing history.