Hugh Bowman rides Winx to victory in the Cox Plate in October.
Hugh Bowman rides Winx to victory in the Cox Plate in October. JULIAN SMITH

Winx impresses trainer in preparation for comeback

THE countdown to the return of champion mare Winx is now in full swing with trainer Chris Waller declaring his superstar on target for her autumn campaign.

The world's best mare on turf ran an eye-catching third in her 1000m barrier trial at Rosehill on Tuesday morning.

Waller said although the scenario was similar to her first hitout two weeks earlier, he was rapt with her condition ahead of the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) on February 11.

"She was there to stretch her legs, get the lungs moving and obviously it's a warm day in Sydney and we were mindful not to overtax any horse, let alone Winx,” Waller said.

"We went through the motions, settled back early to ensure she got into a nice position and comfortable.

"It's about getting the basics right, she finished off very well and as a result we are very happy with the trial.”

Jockey Hugh Bowman had Winx near the tail of the field until bringing her to the outside of the course proper where she unwound ever so slightly to run into third behind all the way winner Nancy.

Looking in close to race fitness, certainly tighter than her initial trial, Winx has given Waller no concerns in the lead-up to her attempt to stretch her winning sequence to 14 on Saturday week.

"It's the start of a long preparation and an important preparation to defend her crown as the world's best horse on turf,” Waller said.

"She's a very foolproof horse, that's what makes her so good. She's such an athlete, she makes the jockey and trainer make her look very good.

"It's hard to say she could come back better than where she was.

"She's reached maturity now and she's a horse at the peak of her career.”

Waller said Winx will be given a couple of quiet days to recover fully from the trial in oppressive conditions before her work steps up at the end of the week.

She'll have a public track gallop next week then Waller will "back off her” for the last few days before the Apollo.

Winx has won 17 of her 23 starts, the latest a record-breaking eight-length Cox Plate win in October, and more than $9.3 million in prizemoney.

Less than an hour after the Winx show finished, the nation's best sprinter Chautauqua began his quest for a record third straight TJ Smith Stakes with a closing third in a 900m trial.