Sydney – Winx’s part-owner Peter Tighe has tantalisingly raised the possibility of the record-breaking champion staying in training beyond the Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
Australia’s premier middle-distance weight-for-age Group 1 has traditionally marked the end of the superstar mare’s spring campaign and many assumed she would be retired after her attempt to win an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on 27 October.
But Tighe said the 21-time Group 1 winner, who has won her last 28 starts, could run again in the Australian autumn.
“It hasn’t even been discussed,” he said of her potential post-Cox Plate retirement. “A lot of people think she might do that [retire], but by racing in the Cox Plate she’ll miss the breeding season, so we’ll put her out for a spell and she’ll tell us during that spell if she wants to come back.
“If she has the same desire and willingness after that spell, then she may get one more chance in the autumn and that may be the curtain coming down then. That would probably be the end of her racing career, we’re certainly not going to keep racing her on and on.”
It does not mean a potential fifth Cox Plate is on the cards however, as Tighe continued: “I think that’d be going to the well one too many times to have a drink. If we’re lucky enough and she’s healthy enough to get to an autumn campaign that would more than likely be it.
“We’d be able to finish her racing, prepare her for the breeding season and move on to the next phase of her life. It’s about what’s best for her. She could win another 20 races but I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. To us it’s about the quality of races that she’s run in and won, and the opposition she’s beaten.
“They’re the things we hold in great esteem and it’s not about making any rash decisions before, during or after the Cox Plate.”
The quality of opposition Winx will face in her bid for immortality has been a hot topic since The Autumn Sun’s devastating victory in the Caulfield Guineas at the weekend. In receipt of 7.5kg, The Autumn Sun would provide her with a stern examination.
But he is trained by Winx’s conditioner Chris Waller and his part-owner John Messara has suggested he does not want to run as defeating Winx would be like shooting Bambi.
Tighe’s response was: “If they think their horse is good enough, bring it on.”
But with his breeding hat on he added: “I do think they are doing the right thing by their horse as a stallion prospect. If he’s good enough to win, good and well, but if he’s not, he doesn’t do himself any favours long term. They’ve got themselves the next superstar of racing and he could be the one we’re talking about in four years going for his fourth Cox Plate.
“There’s a great team behind that horse and they’ll manage him very well. He’ll get every opportunity to race and enhance his stud value, which is a completely different set of rules for a colt as it is for a mare. So, he will be handled a little bit differently.” – www.racingpost.com