Superman and wonder mare hit town
THEY'RE our King and Queen of speed.
The world's fastest athlete Usain Bolt and wonder mare Winx stole Sydneysiders' hearts in a flash yesterday.
Meanwhile Bolt, the Jamaican Olympic sprint sensation, touched down in Sydney just after 7am, bound for the A-League's Central Coast Mariners - and began his journey to create a new piece of history.
Winx's stunning two-length victory in a race named in her honour - the Group 1 Winx Stakes - saw her claim a national record for consecutive wins, passing the legendary mare Black Caviar, who retired unbeaten after 25 starts.
"It's quite staggering,'' Winx's emotional trainer Chris Waller said after the race. "What she's doing for sport and Australian racing, we all should take a bow and say, 'What an honour.' What she does to other horses is, simply breaks their hearts.''
The backdrop to Winx's thumping win included whispers of concern that the seven-year-old's invincibility - having not raced since April - would be tested.
That seed of doubt grew when wild wind and rain swept over the course just moments before Winx was loaded into barrier five.
Yet it seems there's nothing the mighty mare - who has collected $19 million in prizemoney for her owners - can't handle.
Jockey Hugh Bowman settled her back in the field, wheeled out of trouble as the widest runner on the turn, before hitting the front with 100m to go.
Relief and wild celebration from a Randwick crowd of 11,793 greeted Bowman as he powered the short-priced $1.24 favourite past the finishing post.
Waller confirmed after the race that Winx would continue on a path to her fourth Cox Plate at the upcoming spring carnival.
"I was looking (today) for signs of her losing her dominance and I haven't seen one ounce of it,'' Waller said. "If anything, I've seen improvement. This is beyond my belief.''
It was a sporting moment that Bolt, if he had been watching from inside his new "home" on the Central Coast, surely would have cheered.
The 31-year is attempting to make a monumental switch from the track to the football pitch with what the Mariners are calling an "indefinite training period".
The eight-times Olympic champion arrived in Sydney in the same dashing style he has shown over 100m - quick and full of fanfare.
Bolt was mobbed as he navigated his way through a sea of media and fans before climbing into a black van for his drive to the Central Coast.
Sydney Airport hadn't seen scenes like this since visits by Kylie Minogue, Elle Macpherson and the King of Pop Michael Jackson.
But this is Bolt - the world's fastest man and most popular athlete on the planet.
As of Friday night, his trial and train story with the Mariners had attracted more than 200 million page views worldwide. Throw in his combined 13.7 million social media followers on Twitter and Instagram and Bolt will give the A-league and the battling Central Coast franchise an unprecedented boost in exposure.
Asked yesterday how he intended to handle the physicality of football, Bolt confidently declared: "C'mon man, I'm 6'5.
"I've said all along this is for real and I'm here to show what I can do.
"I know what I'm capable of and I know what I can do, so this is the opportunity."
Bolt was then asked how long he would be staying in Australia.
"Forever,'' he smiled.
We could get used to that.