With Winx’s imminent retirement the title of Australia’s best racehorse will soon be up for grabs.
We saw two candidates strut their stuff in different states on Saturday.
Alizee is a powerful, imposing mare by Sepoy out of the brilliant producing mare Essaouira who has also produced Astern and Tassort amongst just five foals to race. She is now a triple Group 1 winner with plenty of upside.
The Autumn Sun is a high-priced, heavily-touted stallion prospect who dominated the normally strong Caulfield Guineas last spring. The form out of the race needs some franking with those behind managing just one win and no placings from 19 subsequent outings, but the stylish colt returned with a tradesman like win in last Saturday’s Hobartville Stakes, albeit against limited opposition.
This Saturday will see the very exciting Mystic Journey return to Victoria for the first time since her breathtaking Fillies Classic win at The Valley – a performance that rated second only to Winx’s Cox Plate performance that day.
So, just who is the second-best horse in the land?
Daniel O’Sullivan of The Ratings Bureau is one of the most respected analysts in the country, he has joined Sectional Stars’ Nic Ashman to dissect the likely candidates.
Alizee has started this prep with ratings of 105, 106 and 103 on Saturday when wide no cover the trip on a day where she reportedly got a little worked up prior to the race.
She's now a triple Group One winner, two of those in open age races and is currently in absolute career best form.
Last autumn he put together ratings of 105.5, 106.3, 106.8 and 104.9 incredible consistency across four runs in the preparation. He resumed this preparation with a 104.5 when second to Winx.
He's won an Epsom and Doncaster Mile when right up in the weights as well as a Group One WFA Canterbury Stakes.
His runs behind Winx have included 1.3-length second, 0.8-length second, two-length second and 2.3-length second in races where she was returning elite ratings.
He has a very strong resume. The chink in his armour is that he's yet to producing anything like his best the Melbourne way of going. He is a consistent 104.5 to 106 performer in Sydney, but his best the Melbourne way of going from six runs so far is 101.4. That's almost three-lengths inferior to his absolute best
Santa Ana Lane
In the spring last year he produced a 106.5 rating winning the Premiere Stakes at Randwick, failed on a bog track in the Everest but then rebounded to run another 106.5 rating to win the Group One VRC Classic Sprint.
A few months’ prior he ran 104.8 winning the Stradbroke Hcp.
He's been remarkably consistent running six 105 ratings since the Spring of 2017 before going to a slight new peak when he won his second Everest in a 106 rating.
He has two Group One wins and two Everest's to his name
In the Spring of 2016 there was no doubt at all he was the second-best horse in the land behind Winx with a number of world class performances including a 3.3-length demolition of Jameka in the Turnbull Stakes who went on at her next start to win the Caulfield Cup by three-lengths.
While he bounced back to form last Spring with a G1 win in the Epsom and 2nd in the Kennedy Mile, his ratings peaked at 104.8 and 104.6.
The Autumn Sun
He certainly deserves the tag of Australia's most promising horse, but on exposed performance he can't possibly be considered the second-best horse in the country behind Winx.
On exposed form, he has a 104.5 Golden Rose win, 104.1 Caulfield Guineas win and rated 101.3 beating Vegadaze on Saturday. He still needs to put something on the track in the 106+ range to stake his claim.
Arcadia Queen produced an outstanding 108.5 to win the 1800-metre Kingston Town Stakes in Perth last December, demolishing a good field. Material Man who was 4.5-length 2nd to Arcadia Queen in that race provides a great benchmark with him subsequently been beaten 1.6L and 2.1L in Group One WFA races over the past month in Melbourne, when unlucky both times. There's no doubt this was a seriously elite performance from Arcadia Queen, but so far it's a one-off and she still has to prove she can repeat that. She's another rightfully in the conversation with The Autumn Sun as Australia's most promising horse.
Below is a table showing the top 20 IVR performances for the past season (Courtesy: Daily Sectionals). For an explanation on IVR CLICK HERE
No horse will match Winx’s feats but someone has to take over the mantle of Australia’s best racehorse.
Arcadia Queen is the most exciting prospect. Her Kingston Town Classic win at Ascot on December 8 looked monstrous and the times back it up. But, like her stablemate Galaxy Star, they will have to venture east and win our biggest races if the public are to deem them number one. If Arcadia Queen was based on the east coast she’d be the one to take over from Winx.
I can see a top -shelf WFA performer with guts, speed and the ability to stick becoming our number one horse. It’s unlikely this horse will have a strike rate much better than 50 percent during each campaign but it will be the type that rarely lets you down and almost always runs well even if it doesn’t win. Land Of Plenty fits that bill. Despite being an older horse, he’s only just reached his peak.
From the list below the only other runner I could entertain is Mystic Journey, who has produced some amazing wins from on and off the pace. Her peak IVR of +8.5 on Cox Plate day needs to replicated before we can get too excited but she gets her chance to possibly do that on Saturday in the Australian Guineas.
It seems more than likely that Winx's last start will be on April 13 in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, it will be interesting to see who steps up and claims the mantle as Australia's best racehorse.