Winx says goodbye, and no Almond Eye
Winx is a record breaking racehorse. She has not been beaten since coming second in the Australian Oaks in April 2015. Since that defeat she has won thirty three consecutive races including twenty five Group One races.
Just to get a horse to compete in those top class races year in year out is a feat. And the fact she kept winning them is a testament to her soundness and attitude.
She won four Cox Plates and three Queen Elizabeth Stakes as well as a Caulfield Cup. She won at various distances and on most goings (firm was obviously not her cup of tea). She is a superstar and the Aussies love her. I think she was very good. That was the case for the defence.
But for the last three years she has been ranked the top turf horse in the world (joint first last year with some horse called Enable).
And I just can’t have it.
Australian sprinters have proved they can be competitive anywhere in the world but at middle distances there is not the strength.
Benbatl is a decent horse but you would not say he is our best and he got to within two lengths of Winx last October.
Enable, who I will use as a marker here, was eleven lengths ahead of Benbatl in the King George of 2017.
Some have asked why more of our top horses have not gone down under to challenge the mare, after all the money on offer is just ridiculous. But it is a long way to go, which is an argument that could be used by the connections of Winx.
But she could have gone to Japan, Hong Kong or even Dubai. As a sports fan I want to see the best front up to each other.
Think Ali and Frazier, Nicklaus and Watson, or Borg and McEnroe. Anyone who saw those clashes will remember them forever.
Winx will go down in the record books but I cannot consider her a true great in the history of the sport. But it is all about opinions and I am sure the owners won’t give a damn about what I think.
Their horse is an Australian icon who earned them over £14 million and will now become a top broodmare. She was a great. But not the greatest.
Almond Eye is another top horse we won’t be seeing on this continent. For now anyway.
The Japanese filly, who won the fillies Triple Crown in that country last season, was thought to be aimed at the Arc with a maybe a stop at York on the way, but will now not be travelling.
According to connections there is a concern regarding her well being “and the changes in her physical condition during long-distance transportation”.
Also the going at Longchamp in October is usually on the easy side where Almond Eye has raced mainly on fast ground. It is a shame as even though she won fairly comfortably at Meydan I think she has more to give.
Some of the classic contenders were out in the last seven days and it was a mixed bag in my view.
Qabala landed a bit of a gamble when winning the Nell Gwyn and she was going away at the line so the extra furlong of the 1000 Guineas shouldn’t be a problem.
She is favourite for the big race but the next few in the betting haven’t run yet this term so we have to take it on trust that they have trained on. I still like Fairyland.
The Craven could be better than the bare form with a few runners meeting trouble in running including the first two but I liked the Greenham winner Mohaather.
He will surely come on for that as he didn’t run in a straight line at the finish. He also drifted in the betting so maybe surprised those close to him.
The horse who impressed me most was Persian King. He won as an odds on favourite should when he took the Prix de Fontainebleau.
It was first thought he would contest the French version but he may now be heading to Newmarket.
He is as short as 10/3 and with fitness concerns over Too Darn Hot, however minor, and the relative failure of the other Godolphin runners, Andre Fabre has not ruled anything out. Any significant rain across the English Channel will also have connections leaning towards Newmarket.