Mon, Aug 22, 11:04am by Bren O'Brien
Champion mare Winx’s successful return to the racetrack has seen her now firm into $2.25 for the successful defence of her Cox Plate title in Australasia’s greatest weight for age race on October 22.
Winx powered past her rivals in Saturday’s Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick to win by three and half lengths as $1.24 favourite, showing she has lost none of her power and speed in her absence from the track over the past few months.
That completed a run of ten consecutive victories for the five-year-old, who was last defeated when second to Gust of Wind in the 2015 ATC Oaks. Since then she has unleashed an astonishing winning streak, which has included six Group 1 race wins to become the undisputed best horse in Australia.
On Saturday, she sat outside of leader Rebel Dane and simply powered away in the final 300m to banish any doubts after it was revealed she had surgery on bone chips in April.
When that news broke in the week leading up to her first-up run, betting in the Cox Plate had her at $2.75 to win the race she won emphatically in record time in 2015.
There was understandable caution whether she would be at her best this campaign after the procedure, but those doubts were roundly dismissed by her dominance on Saturday.
Sportsbet reacted by bring her in to $2.25 for the 2040m race at Moonee Valley, exactly two months out from her main assignment of the spring. She is even shorter with William Hill, at $2.20, while Crownbet has her at $2.50.
She is likely to have three more runs before that race, with trainer Chris Waller previously saying she would run in the Chelmsford and the George Main in Sydney, before coming to Melbourne for the Caulfield Stakes at Caulfield.
Should she progress unbeaten through those races, she would likely to start odds-on in the Cox Plate. The last horse to do that was So You Think in 2010, with favourites having won just two of the past ten editions of the race.
Other locally based horses in the Cox Plate market who performed on the weekend were Hartnell, who was a strong second to Winx and is now $34 for the Cox Plate, while three-year-olds
Omei Sword and Divine Prophet are also $34 after their wins at Randwick.
Highland Reel, the third-place getter from last year’s Cox Plate, is now equal pick for the race at $17 after his trainer Aidan O’Brien confirmed a trip to Australia was firmly on the agenda.
Highland Reel, who has won major races in both Hong Kong and at Ascot since his trip to Australia last year, ran second in the Juddmonte International last week to British star Postponed.
O’Brien, who won the Cox Plate with Adelaide in 2014, indicated Highland Reel would either contest the Irish Champion stakes or a race in the US before heading to Australia.
Highland Reel is also entered for the Caulfield Cup, the week before the Cos Plate, where Sportsbet has him at $17.
Two other possible Cox Plate hopefuls had runs overseas in the last week, with Vadamos, currently $26, second in a Group 1 race at Deauville and Order of St George, a $26 Cox Plate hope and now a clear $15 favourite for the Melbourne Cup, winning a Group 3 race at The Curragh.
In a measure of how difficult finding value is in early feature markets, there are 31 horses under $34 with Sportsbet, including a $2.25 favourite. That makes it a 146% market.
Cox Plate Market (Sportsbet):
The United States (Ire) $17.00
Highland Reel (Ire) $17.00
Lucia Valentina (Nz) $21.00
Xtravagant (Nz) $26.00
Vadamos (Fr) $26.00
Order Of St George (Ire) $26.00
Tarzino (Nz) $26.00
Tosen Stardom (Jpn) $26.00
Black Heart Bart $26.00
Yankee Rose $26.00
Long Island Sound (Usa) $34.00
Tryster (Ire) $34.00
Divine Prophet $34.00
Spiritjim (Fr) $34.00
Idaho (Ire) $34.00
Sir Isaac Newton (Gb) $34.00
Happy Clapper $34.00
Hartnell (Gb) $34.00
Mutakayyef (Gb) $34.00
Omei Sword $34.00
Hit It A Bomb (Usa) $34.00
Our Ivanhowe (Ger) $34.00
Preferment (Nz) $34.00
He may no longer be known simply as the 'no pokies' Senator, but Nick Xenophon is determined to pursue further gambling law…
The proposed merger between Tatts and Tabcorp hit another potential hurdle on Wednesday when a third-party consortium, led by Macquarie Group, launched…
One Sydney punter has admitted a $10 bet which he converted into over $66,000 thanks to a 20-leg soccer multi was a…