It was a moment in Australian sporting history that many will remember forever as Winx entered folklore status in ‘The Race Where Legends Are Made’ by becoming the first horse ever to win four W.S. Cox Plates.
A staggering 51,662 people headed trackside over the two-day Ladbrokes Cox Plate Carnival, a rise of 7,145 over last year’s Carnival record of 44,517.
The demand for tickets and interest in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate saw tickets sold-out in advance, with 38,035 enjoying every moment of the history-making day at The Valley.
The buzz around the course could only be described as electric as the build-up to ‘the greatest two minutes in sport’ had everyone on edge. A beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by Grace Laing, daughter of trainer Robbie, ensured the crowd was at is patriotic best, with legendary singer Daryl Braithwaite whipping them into a frenzy with a stellar performance of ‘The Horses’.
The moment had arrived and as Winx ambled on to the course to make her way down to the 2040m start, the crowd roared. They had come to be part of history and the world’s best racehorse and three-time W.S. Cox Plate winner was ready to achieve what had never been done before – win a fourth. When the barriers crashed open the grandstand erupted with nervous energy, with jockey Hugh Bowman finding a position midfield as they turned out of the home straight.
At the 600 metre mark, the great mare took off and “The Valley roared” as they rounded the home turn, with Godolphin raider Benbatl the only danger. While Saeed bin Suroor’s classy galloper matched strides on the bend, upon straightening Bowman rode a wave of emotion as the crowd cheered home the champ as she strode to immortality status.
“Cometh the hour, cometh the legend - GREATNESS” – perfectly narrated by race caller Matt Hill, Winx had done it, achieving something many wouldn’t ever have imagined possible – four consecutive wins in the Weight-For-Age Championship of Australasia and now the undisputed champion of our time. Benbatl ran a gallant second, with Humidor running home in third. All eyes were fixated on Winx as she strode back down the home straight to the adoring crowd, with the fitting word ‘LEGENDARY’ displayed on the track.
“This was a seminal moment in Australian sporting history and she quite rightly stands alone as the greatest we have ever seen,” said Don Casboult, Chairman of the Moonee Valley Racing Club.
“The build-up to this day has been unbelievable and for it to deliver like it did, it was something we will reflect upon for the rest of our lives.
“Winx, Chris Waller and Hugh Bowman have now achieved something that may never be done again and for that they should be congratulated.”
While Saturday was a day to remember, a record crowd for Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes Night of 13,627 was also achieved on the Friday night, which was up on the previous record for this meeting of 11,805, set in 2017.
The atmosphere under lights is incomparable as those trackside soaked up the evening and discussed with nervous energy what’s to come. There was no nervous energy from superstar jockey Hugh Bowman as he steered Brave Smash home with a great ride to win the Group 1 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes for Darren Weir. The win provided Weir with another Group 1 and he now becomes the most successful trainer at our two-day Carnival since its inception seven years ago.
While Australia’s richest race under lights delivered on the track, the crowd enjoyed ARIA-nominated Aussie rock band Dallas Crane in the Beer Garden, while Winx merchandise, food trucks, the Harrolds Photo Finish competition and the PGA TOUR World Cup of Golf activation kept everyone entertained.
The inaugural Catanach’s Brent Thomson Jockey Challenge went down to the wire, so much so that it was a three-way tie between Hugh Bowman, John Allen and Mark Zahra. On countback, Bowman and Allen couldn’t be split and therefore tied for first place, sharing in the $10,000 Catanach’s voucher prize and each receiving a silver-plated whip valued at $2,000. The Club would like to thank Catanach’s Jewellers for their support and look forward to having the Catanach’s Brent Thomson Jockey Challenge an annual event.
“The Winx story has now entered sporting folklore and while this may be the last time we see her at The Valley, her legacy will live on forever and be talked about for generations to come,” said Casboult.
“The 98th edition of the W.S. Cox Plate will stand alone, with the 99th edition likely to bring with it a new and exciting chapter and the 100th running in 2020 one to behold.
“For now, we bask in the glory of a wonderful mare and pinch ourselves that we were able to be in the presence of greatness on October 27 at The Valley.”