Aloisia gets her Winx close-up

5 min read
One-time glamour filly Aloisia meets superstar mare Winx for the first time in Saturday's G2 Apollo S.

When Aloisia (NZ) (Azamour {Ire}) powered to a big win in the G2 MV Vase less than an hour after Winx (Street Cry {Ire}) had won her third G1 Cox Plate in 2017, expectations were that the filly could be one those horses to fill the void that would be left when the superstar mare retired.

It was Aloisia's second win in the space of seven days, having triumphed in the G1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield to establish herself as the quality filly of the Victorian spring.

Fast-forward 17 months, and while Aloisia has failed to win another race in 11 subsequent starts, Winx has added another seven successive victories.

In Saturday's G2 Apollo S. at Randwick, in what will be the first run of what is expected to be Winx's final campaign, the superstar mare meets her one-time heir apparent on the track for the first time.

Trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace look to have finally got to the bottom to Aloisia's erratic form after a long year of frustrations.


Having placed just once in four starts in the Melbourne spring, the switch to Sydney in December made all the difference to the now 4-year-old as she charged home to be narrowly beaten by the highly rated Sky Boy (Pendragon {NZ}) in the G2 Villiers S.

But the change in form was about much more than geography for Aloisia, with Maher later revealing the use of altrenogest, which had been effectively banned in Victoria, was key to the mare getting back near her best.

Managing owner OTI's Terry Henderson said that Aloisia looked to have returned to her old self and believed she was ready to put her best forward on Saturday.

"That last run in the Villiers was very, very promising. We are hoping she can return to that sort of form." - OTI's Terry Henderson

"We think so. She's been so erratic in many ways. That last run in the Villiers was very, very promising. We are hoping she can return to that sort of form. If she did, and put her best in, she'd be very competitive in a race like the (G1) Coolmore (Classic)," he said.

"She's settled back into Sydney really well. She was down at the beach in Melbourne. She had a trial in Sydney last week and went ok but wasn't stunning. But she's in really good order and this race will bring her on even more for a race like the Coolmore."

OTI managing owner, Terry Henderson

Aloisia's reliance on altrenogest to perform at her best has highlighted the strange situation that exists whereby its use on fillies and mares to stop them coming in season in New South Wales is permitted, but across the border, concerns over trace elements of anabolic steroids has seen Racing Victoria effectively ban it.

"At this stage, we are not taking any chances with it. There are plenty of good races in Sydney, so why would we do anything different?" - Terry Henderson

Henderson said that there would be no risks taken with Aloisia, and she would remain on altrenogest while she campaigned in Sydney in the autumn.

"At this stage, we are not taking any chances with it. There are plenty of good races in Sydney, so why would we do anything different? We are better off being up there where we know she races well on the altrenogest. That's what we’ve decided to do," he said.

That includes a likely shot at the G1 Doncaster Mile should she perform to expectations in the G1 Coolmore Classic.

Tom meets Winx

OTI also has Chris Waller's Tom Melbourne (Ire) (Dylan Thomas {Ire}) in the Apollo S after the 8-year-old ended his famous 30-run losing streak with victory in the Listed Carrington S. at Randwick last month.

"He seems a little more settled this prep. Chris is very happy with him. He's enjoyed his six-week break at the beach we gave him after his spring carnival prep," Henderson said.

In an era where Winx's winning streak has been the dominant on-track story, Tom Melbourne's losing streak had a legend all of its own, almost enhanced by his penchant for running second.

Having finally broken through, he meets his famous stablemate for the first time on the racetrack.

From the Apollo S, Tom Melbourne will head towards the $5m All-Star Mile, where he currently sits 13th in the voting with five days to go.

OTI enlisted some high-profile help in that regard on Wednesday, getting cricket champion Shane Warne aboard the Tom Melbourne bandwagon via his Twitter account.

"We are doing everything we can to get him in," Henderson said. "I've just had Warney send out a tweet for us. Hopefully, we can get a few more and get him into the field. It’s a rather convoluted process."

OTI staying strong

OTI has a typical strong hand headed into the feature racing in Sydney and Melbourne, with a focus on the top-line staying races, especially the G1 Sydney Cup.

"There's a horse called Azuro (Fr) (Myboycharlie {Ire}), who will head towards the Sydney Cup. Chris Waller has got two, he's got High Bridge (GB) (Monsun {Ger}), who we saw a little bit of in the spring and he's also got Casterton (Ire) (Fastnet Rock) and they will head to Sydney too," he said.

Henderson confirmed OTI will also aim several of its horses towards the Listed Andrew Ramsden S. in May, which is now a qualifying race for the 2019 G1 Melbourne Cup. They include King of Camelot (Fr) (Camelot {GB}), who is with Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young as well as Instigator {Ger}) (Nayef {USA}), who was third on his Australian debut for Aaron Purcell in the Colac Cup last weekend.