Sunday, October 2, 2022

Why Winx is perfection on four legs

Being a horse, Winx can be trusted not to be overwhelmed by the occasion. For the champion mares las..

By Sunday Herald Team , in Sports , at April 12, 2019

Being a horse, Winx can be trusted not to be overwhelmed by the occasion. For the champion mares last race, Saturdays Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick, there will be no sadness or sentiment, none of the fabled tear in Don Bradmans eye that turned his cricket farewell into the most celebrated failure.

Whether she wins or loses her 33rd on the trot, Winx will be remembered as racings Bradman, an idea of perfection who transcended the boundary of sport and became a paragon.

Illustration: Dionne Gain

Illustration: Dionne GainCredit:

Since the Sunshine Coast Guineas in 2015, Winx has never let her supporters down. This in itself makes her an unusual heroine for Australians, who warm to frailty in our champions, as if they reflected us. Phar Laps death was like something from a crime novel. Kingston Town always raced himself to the brink of breakdown and had his quixotic tilts at the Melbourne Cup. Even the unbeaten Black Caviar had her moment of almost-overreach when she went to England. The texture of failure enhanced the storytelling.

Racing champions belong in some way to their time. Phar Lap carrying enormous handicaps was an equine analogue the Great Depression, Bernborough represented the aftermath of World War II, snatching victory from apparently certain defeat, while Tullochs reliable excellence was one of the certainties of the 1950s. Horses also belong to their back stories: peoples champions like Gunsynd, Kiwi and Vo Rogue were made by the labours and luck of the folk who owned, trained and rode them.


Winx is different. Perfection is a more remote quality. Racings place in the world has changed. Millions of Australians will be oblivious to Winx as they couldnt be to Phar Lap or even Kingston Town. Racing has moved towards the cultural margins. Winx brings it back towards the centre momentarily, as the sport makes energetic efforts to stay high as the tide falls. Winx is racings chance to remind Australia that it exists, and that it can inspire.

A peoples horse Winx can never be. Her owners were already rich, her trainer and jockey already the best at their game before Winx came along. Chris Waller and Hugh Bowman didnt need Winx to make their careers, but chance tasked them with using their premier talents to the stewardship of hers. Which they have done supremely. The group of owners, meanwhile, have been generous to the sport. Where others might have been pressured to take the more conservative decision to pack Winx off to guaranteed lucre as a broodmare at age four or five, Winxs owners took the gamble of keeping her racing until seven, putting the sport first.

There have to be knocks on Winx, because sport is about conversation and contention, but she is equal to the debate. Has she maintained her winning streak by beating moderate horses? Happy Clapper and Hartnell only look moderate because Winx keeps beating them. Its a zero-sum argument. Has she benefited from the quirk of the weight-for-age system that allows her to carry two kilograms less than the male horses? Yes, but she would have won anyway. Perhaps there is a lack of uplifting poetry in her name, with its vaguely seedy Read More – Source

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