As Winx bows out on a memorable day, there’s a hint of future glories

Sure, Darren Weir had Verry Elleegant when she first arrived in Australia but under the Waller system her soft mouth, making comfortable control difficult, is responding to James McDonald.

Around five seasons ago when Waller was flying high, I asked him when he would win a Melbourne Cup. Despite having runners and promising stayers, he replied it would take quite a few seasons yet. Obviously, he was working on the type required and the method to get them primed for the first Tuesday in November at Flemington.

Certainly the Sydney Cup has been well within his range, with Shraaoh giving him four, but more is required to win the Melbourne Cup and only two Australian Oaks winners have completed the double as four-year-olds: Light Fingers (1965) and Evening Peal (1956). Ethereal went via the Queensland Oaks.

But modern mares have become stronger and more competitive, points that Waller develops.

Back in 2005 John “Shiner” Schell, a colleague at the time, introduced me to Waller, then an unknown New Zealander, in the Rosehill press room.

The only aspect that resonated was his courtesy, which he has maintained on his journey from the torrid years to the top, where he has stayed.

Earlier he had arrived at Randwick as a strapper, a Kiwi without a feather to fly, racing jargon for not having the price of a feed, at the stable of trainer Pat Webster, who sensed his plight and made sure he didn’t go hungry, getting the best and a still-remembered meal from the renowned family chef “Fighting Harada”.

It’s awesome that Waller has come so far so fast up the group 1 ladder.

It’s awesome that Waller has come so far so fast up the group 1 ladder. The achievements are not in the Winx stratosphere, but she has left racing while the trainer remains.

Never has a champion departed with so much authority on such a memorable occasion, with 43,833 on hand for an experience of a lifetime. And it was about a horse, not the booze. Hopefully, with the NSW racing industry booming, it can benefit even further from her contribution.

In the interview melee, I noted that Bowman described her as a “just a horse”, which struck me as labelling Elvis “as just another singer”. Incidentally, he never performed outside the US.


No doubt the context was Winx is blood and bone, legs and heart in answer to the surge that the mare is so good and healthy currently that she should continue racing. New comparisons came to the fore, with farewell tours of Melba mentioned.

Winx left the stage at Randwick on Saturday and none have done it better, making it difficult to imagine this wonderful thoroughbred mooching around a paddock with a couple of old geldings awaiting the brief pleasure of stallions who would only get near her on a racecourse if she was hog-tied.

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