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Winx shares world honour

Winx (Street Cry {Ire}) and Cracksman (Frankel {GB}) shared the honour of being named 2018 Longines World’s Best Racehorse at a ceremony in London

Both horses were rated 130 on their best performances of 2018, with Winx given the rating from her G1 Queen Elizabeth S. win, while Cracksman's best came in the G1 QIPCO Champion Stakes.

“Winx has been in the Top 10 of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings since 2015 and has been the highest rated filly/mare in the world since 2016. In 2018, she claimed overall top honours during a season that culminated in her becoming the only horse in history to win the Ladbrokes Cox Plate four times," a statement from the IFHA and Longines said.

Two of Winx's owners, Debbie Kepitis and Peter Tighe, said it was a continuation of an amazing journey with the champion mare.

"When we bought Winx, we never imagined everything she has been able to accomplish. The magic carpet ride she has taken us on has been amazing, and it is wonderful to have her honoured as the Longines World’s Best Racehorse,” Kepitis said.

“It is gratifying to have Winx recognised as the Longines World’s Best Racehorse. She has been a part of the Longines Awards for three years now, and her consistency at the highest level is just one of the things that makes her beyond special in our eyes," Tighe said.

Accelerate (USA) (Lookin At Lucky {USA}) finished third in the awards, which were presented at a special ceremony in London.

Feature Queensland races receive boost

Racing Queensland has announced a $1.7 million increase in prizemoney across eight races during its feature winter carnival.

Rather than focus money on the top two or three races, RQ has looked to encourage more depth, by providing boosts to the support card.

The G2 PJ O'Shea S. (2200m) has doubled from $200,000 to $400,000, the G2 BRC Sires' Produce (1400m) S. has increased from $250,000 to $400,000 and the Group 2 AD Hollindale S. goes to $500,000, up from $358,000.

Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said the increases aimed to attract more emerging stars to Queensland across the winter period.

“It is hoped this will enhance the carnival’s reputation as a nursery for Australasia’s emerging two-year-old and three-year-old stars,” Mr Parnell said.

Queensland’s three main Group 1 sprints, the Doomben 10,000, Kingsford-Smith Cup and Stradbroke Handicap - will now offer prize money of $3 million in a bid to attract some of Australia’s top sprinters.

“Prizemoney for the Group One Doomben 10,000 will be increased to $800,000 to reflect its status as one of Australia’s top-10 races on ratings,” Parnell said.

As previously announced, prizemoney for all Group 3 races will be a minimum $140,000 and Listed races at $125,000.

Expensive Faretti flies in trial

$2 million colt Faretti (I Am Invincible) put on a lightning quick first trial performance at Randwick on Thursday.

The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained colt, who topped the sale at the 2018 Magic Millions, had 0.8l to spare of his rivals in winning in the fastest time of the five 2-year-old 740m trials, 43.29s.

Stablemates Escaped (Exceed and Excel) (43.58), Fiery Red (Pierro) (43.85) and Shuhood (I Am Invincible) also won their trials, along with Rick Worthington's filly Steel Diamond (Star Witness) (43.86).

There were two 2-year-old trials held over the 1045m with Quiet Riot (Fastnet Rock) winning his trial in a time nearly a second quicker than stablemate Frosty Rocks (Your Song).

3-year-olds Mizzy (Zoustar) and Master Ash (Sebring) showed they are ready for big autumn campaigns with trial wins against the older horses.

Mizzy, who has not been seen since being beaten in the G1 Flight S. led all the way to win the opening heat, defeating Zousain (Zoustar), who was runner-up in the G1 Coolmore Stud S., by 1.5 lengths.

Osborne Bulls (Street Cry {Ire}) and Happy Clapper (Teofilo {Ire}) closed well in third and fourth.

Master Ash, winner of the G3 Up and Coming S. showed plenty of pace to defeat Kementari (Lonhro) narrowly in the second trial of the day.

That pair were seven lengths ahead of the rest of the field over the 900m, with stablemates Rainier (Lonhro) and Hartnell (GB) (Authorized {Ire}) fighting out third.

Aussie races dominate rankings

Australia had 31 of the top-100 Group 1 races in the world in 2018 as confirmed at the Longines World's Best Racehorse ceremony in London.

The G1 Queen Elizabeth S. at Randwick, won emphatically by Winx (Street Cry {Ire}), was ranked second behind the G1 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which was won by Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}).

The G1 George Ryder S. and the G1 Colgate Optic White S., both won by Winx, were equally recognised as the world's best mile races during 2018 while Australia's best Group 1 sprint race was the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m), won by Trapeze Artist (Snitzel) ahead of the G1 Doomben 10,000 and the G1 VRC Sprint Classic.

In terms of handicaps, the G1 Epsom Hcp rated ahead of the G1 Doncaster Mile and G1 Lexus Newmarket Hcp, while the only Australian 3-year-old race in the top-100 classification was the G1 Randwick Guineas, won by Kementari (Lonhro).

Derby credentials on display

Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman will know a lot more about the strength of their hand for the G1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby in March after the weekend's racing.

Five of the Cambridge training pair's Derby prospects will be on display across four days with specific focus on Dual Group 1 winner Madison County (Pins), who contests the $1 million Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie.

Madison County

Baker is not yet convinced that Madison County has the staying quality to contest a Derby but will make a call after Saturday's race.

"He'll run another honest race. He's done a bit of travelling and this is a strong field, but there's no reason why he shouldn't run well again," Baker said.

Cutadeel (NZ) (Dundeel {NZ}) and The Chosen One (Savabeel {NZ}) race at Pukekohe on Friday , while Bobby Dee (NZ) (Zed {NZ}) and Fiery Dragon (Iffraaj {GB}) are entered for Te Teko on Monday.

The Chosen One will contest the Splice Construction 1400 at Pukekohe and Baker has high hopes for him.

"He's just getting going again after a break. He was only out for three weeks so didn't lose much fitness and we were very happy with his run at Ellerslie," Baker said.

"He ran home the last 600m pretty swiftly and he's not a 1200m horse. He's got a Derby nomination but we'll play it by ear after Pukekohe. He should run well. I don't think he'll be far away."

Like The Chosen One, the promising Cutadeel will head towards either the G2 Waikato Guineas on February 9 or the G2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie a week later after Friday after contesting the Rogers Racing Stables 1600 at Pukekohe.

"We're very happy with Cutadeel. He's going well," Baker said.

"Because of the handicapping system, he's got to carry weight against the older horses but he should run. They've changed the programme this year and there's only one week between the Waikato Guineas and Avondale Guineas instead of two, so we'll make a decision where they go after this one."

Microphone switched on for Blue Diamond

Microphone (Exceed and Excel) can earn his late entry for the G1 Blue Diamond S. with a win in the Blue Diamond Preview at Caulfield on Saturday.

Microphone impressed with a debut win at Flemington and looks the leading hope for Godolphin in Melbourne as things stand.

Microphone winning at Flemington

“They have got a few better ones up in Sydney but they’re heading (Golden) Slipper way but they need something for down here as well,” Dunn told Racenet.com.au.

“He’s one of the best they have got down here but he’s not nominated for the Blue Diamond so he needs to keep running well to keep heading towards it.”

Dunn, a four-time winner of the Blue Diamond S., said the Exceed and Excel colt has considerable scope for improvement.

“It was a good effort at Flemington the other day because the second horse put a length on him and then he came back,” Dunn said. “It was a good performance down the middle on his own."

“He’s a blinkers horse because he’s quite colty. In his first jumpout at Werribee, he didn’t go at all. He got a bit bully the other day when he got to the races so hopefully, he’s given that away."

“Hopefully he grows up a bit now that he’s had a day at the races and the trip there on Saturday will help him.