Compare the mare: Following Winx's steps

3 min read

By Bren O'Brien

You get the feeling that Chris Waller is going to spend half the spring trying to avoid comparisons between emerging star Unforgotten (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) and his superstar mare Winx {Street Cry {Ire}).

The phrase 'Winx-like' is in danger of overuse in racing circles, but there was certainly something familiar about the way that Waller's 4-year-old ATC Oaks winner put away her rivals in the G2 Chelmsford S. at Randwick on Saturday, and it wasn't just the trainer and jockey combination.

It was certainly more comfortable than the way in which her much more famous stablemate won this race 12 months ago. On that occasion, Winx needed the whole straight to run down Red Excitement (Excites {Aus}), a horse who Unforgotten beat by five lengths on Saturday.

Easy pickings

Aside from a moment at the 300m mark when Hugh Bowman looked in need of a run, this was easy pickings for Unforgotten as she announced herself as a genuine weight-for-age contender in her own right.

"She is very special. She showed that in the Autumn and the Oaks was very special in itself. That was great at the mile,” Waller said.

"She won't be taking on Winx I can tell you that." - Chris Waller

In any other era, Waller would be plotting his way to the spring's premier weight-for-age race, the Cox Plate with such an emerging talent, but with Winx on the path to her fourth consecutive win in that race, he knows he has to plot his course carefully.

"There are so many options in the Spring. I could have gone Epsom and Cox Plate with her bar for Winx. That is what we did with Winx and that was the making of her career. She won’t be taking on Winx I can tell you that,” he said.

Taking her own path

Just two weeks ago, Unforgotten finished fifth behind the champion mare in the G1 Winx S. but Waller seems determined to let this mare find her own way forward.

As he mentioned there are plenty of other options, including a $5 million Caulfield Cup that she is now a clear second favourite in.

"That sounds pretty good. We will run with it for today. See where she fits in and see where the weights settle," he said.

Bowman is perhaps best placed to assess the comparison between the two mares. He rode Winx to an effortless jumpout victory earlier in the day at Randwick.

“I had the horse to take me places I wouldn’t go on many, she is pretty smart and she put the writing on the wall when she won the ATC Oaks here in the autumn, the world is her oyster," Bowman said on Unforgotten.

"I wouldn’t imagine she would be beating Winx anytime soon but there are plenty of nice races for her.”


Ace back on track

The return to form of Ace High {High Chaparral {Ire}) would have delighted his trainer David Payne, who was left scratching his head after an under-par run in the Winx S.

The 2017 Victoria Derby winner put in a real staying effort, holding off Libran (Lawman {Fra}) over the final stages in the battle for second.

He too is headed to the major spring handicaps, with Payne keen to get him to the G1 Melbourne Cup.