About 125 metres from home. That was when it appeared the Winx fairytale was in serious jeopardy, when Humidor loomed as a genuine threat. But she rallied and held a long neck margin on the line to join Kingston Town as a three-time winner, setting a new track record (2:02.94) in the process.
Matt Hill was open in that he was more anxious about the Cox Plate than calling his first Melbourne Cup and he can be proud of his work. Most prepared lines bit the dust when Humidor charged at Winx late, but his ‘the great mare completes the great trilogy of the turf’ line was a fine sign-off.
One lucky racegoer will head home with a priceless momento of a historic moment, with Hugh Bowman tossing his helmet into the crowd as he paraded the mare in front of the home straight crowd after the race.
The Cox Plate ended just after 5pm, but the fallout continued in the stewards’ room almost two hours later. At 6.42pm stewards issued a note advising Damien Oliver, who rode Happy Clapper, had been suspended for 20 meetings on an improper riding charge against Dean Yendall on Royal Symphony. Oliver now misses the Melbourne Cup Carnival, where he was to ride Almandin in the big one.
Aloisia didn’t start favourite in the Group 2 Vase, but the $3 chance was cheered home like Winx in the home straight, streaking clear of $2.45 top pick Cliff’s Edge. Maybe it was because they looked the standout quinella of the day. Aaron Purcell’s filly is now CrownBet’s $1.80 VRC Oaks favourite.
Who Shot Thebarman booked his spot in a fourth Melbourne Cup with his win in the $300,000 Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup. Atoning for last year’s second to stablemate Grand Marshal, the 9YO led home another Chris Waller quinella when he held off Libran in the 2500m event. The son of Yamanin Vital finished fifth in last year’s Melbourne Cup, having suffered interference when 11th the year before and was third behind Protectionist in 2014.
Winx wasn’t the only Sydney mare to star on one of the biggest days with Bjorn Baker’s Lubiton covering The Valley 1600m faster than any other horse when winning the $150,000 G3 Powerflo Solutions Stakes. The Snitzel 4YO’s time of 1:34.42 clipped 0.36secs off Cabeza’s previous mark, which was set on New Year’s Eve 2010.
“I was born the year Kingston Town won his first Cox Plate…We are in the presence of greatness. She’ll be recognised as one of the greatest horses to grace the Australian turf. To be a part of her career, I can’t explain how much that means,” Winx’s jockey Hugh Bowman.
“It’s a thrill to be here. I’ve been one of those many people up in the stand, admiring this race, admiring the history of this race and Australian sport. It’s very humbling to be on the other side looking at everybody and I just thank them for embracing Winx like she’s their own,” Winx’s trainer Chris Waller.
“Halfway down the straight I thought ... well, I didn’t know what to think, actually. He ran great, the winner was too good and the scenes here are amazing,” Darren Weir, trainer of Humidor, who is now CrownBet’s $6.50 equal favourite for the Melbourne Cup.
“It’s been an amazing day. This is where the best of the best are – trainers, jockeys and horses – so I’m pretty proud to ride four winners. It’s very special,” rider-of-the-day, Blake Shinn.
“The Oaks was always her goal, this was just a warm-up for that and it couldn’t have gone any better. I couldn’t be happier with her,” Aloisia’s trainer, Aaron Purcell.
“She’s proven to be one of the most precocious types for us. She’s tough and I think she’ll keep on improving. There’s a nice race for her on Cup day so hopefully we’ll see a bit more from her,” co-trainer Adrian Bott on first-race winner Setsuna.
“Cheerio to the missus. I’ll be getting an Uber home and I’ll be staying out until stumps, so I’ll probably be in the doghouse,” Ryan Maloney after winning the G3 Telstra Phonewords Stakes (1200m) on the Toby Edmonds-trained Eptimum.
2:02.94 – a new 2040m track record for The Valley, Winx shaving 0.04secs of her previous mark, set in the 2015 Cox Plate.
32,617 were in attendance, the largest Cox Plate crowd since 34,072 saw Maldivian win in 2008.
Winx was one of just two favourites to get the money, with the two other odds-on favourite for the day – Demarara ($1.90 in Race 4) and Big Duke ($1.95 in Race 6) – finishing third and fourth respectively. Setsuna ($4) was the other favourite to score.
Blake Shinn, four winners for the day. After a hat-trick aboard Blondie (Race 4), Lubiton (Race 5) and Who Shot Thebarman (Race 6), he won Race 8 aboard Lucky Hussler.
Lucky Hussler’s G2 Crystal Mile win completed a double for Darren Weir, who earlier won with Gun Case.
1:34.42 – Lubiton’s new 1600m Moonee Valley track record, clipping 0.36secs off the old mark.
Winners in three states for Chris Waller. He snared the Cox Plate with Winx and a quinella in the Moonee Valley Cup, but also won with I Am Serious at Randwick and The Rumour File at Doomben.
Tony Gollan and Jim Byrne had a dream run at Doomben, combining for three straight wins – St Hilary (Race 6), Hi I’m Back (Race 7) and My Girl Hayley (Race 8).
A week after riding his first winner, 4kg claimer Lewis German collected his first feature victory when he teamed with the Danny Curran-trained longshot Manhattan Menage to take out the $20,000 St Arnaud Cup.
Fifty-six. That’s how many starts it took for Teebox to break her maiden. The Robert Hardy-trained 8YO scored by 1.25 lengths in the first race at the Alexandra picnics. She earned connections $1611, which took her career earnings to $34,672.
The Stewards’ Room
Damien Oliver outed for 20 meetings for improper riding. See above.
Rhys McLeod suspended for six meetings for overuse of the whip aboard A Ma Shay in Race 7.
Race 1 – Jawwaal ($6.50, sixth) lame in the near fore, Faroe ($7, eighth) lame behind.
Race 3 – Experimentation ($7, last), lame in the off-fore.
Race 8 – Petrology ($19, last), lame both front legs.
Race 10 – The Sledgehammer ($31, last) lame in the near fore.
Click here to learn more about the limited edition Winx Cox Plate memorabilia on sale now