Winx eyes historic result under Randwick gaze
AT 3.05pm today all eyes will be on barrier 10 at Royal Randwick and one amazing horse attempting to make history.
The champagne, fine food and stunning fashion that all go to make The Championships the highlight of the autumn racing calendar will be forgotten.
Winx, the mighty mare, with regular jockey Hugh Bowman in the saddle, will come out of the gates and have just over two minutes to match the legendary Black Caviar's 25-race unbeaten run.
One other jockey in the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes knows what it is like to ride Winx to victory. Jason Collett was on board for her first two wins.
"She will be pretty hard to beat," Collett observed dryly. His horse, Consensus from New Zealand, has drawn a better barrier but is ranked a 100-1 long shot.
Like all the jockeys in the race, which has a total of $4 million in prizemoney, Collett loves Winx and what she has done to raise the profile of racing in Australia and across the world.
"But if I was in the position to beat her I would definitely take it," he said.
One of England's most successful racehorse owners, Harry Herbert, regularly sets his alarm clock at Highclere Castle, the setting of TV show Downton Abbey, to get up and watch Winx race.
But today he has come to Sydney to see her run in person after Winx's owners ruled out her travelling overseas to compete.
"If I had to make the same decision as Winx's owners about going overseas I would be really struggling with it, too," said Herbert, whose father was the Queen's racing manager.
"It's a big ask and the prizemoney she is running for here in Australia is so significant, she's the belle of the ball.''
Another belle, former Miss Universe Australia Jesinta Franklin, posed for photographs with the world's best horse on turf this week.
"It was so exciting when the opportunity came up," said Franklin. "She's vying for the 25th win which really puts her at champion status.
"She's a national treasure, so it was great to meet her. I was a bit nervous because I've actually shot with horses quite a bit and I've been bitten but she was so gentle and had such a beautiful nature and wasn't jumpy at all," Franklin said.
Blue and white is set to flood Royal Randwick in honour of the champion mare.
"She's really touched everybody's hearts, and she's a real 'people's horse' and I think everybody looks forward to seeing her at the races and it's hard not to get behind her," said Emily Bosson, who will be part of Seven's racing coverage on 7TWO.
Around 30,000 people are expected to fill the stands at Royal Randwick for the second day of The Championships, the grand finals of racing, with a range of pop-up pavilions and food outlets offering racegoers the chance to enjoy autumn's last hurrah.
There will be Pimms on tap at the Pimms Horse Float, Chandon S in the Chic Easy Tram, a Schweppes and Pimms Cocktail Garden and DJ Gas Kempster playing at the Canadian Club Giddy Up Club.
Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys said: "The Championships are like the Olympic Games for thoroughbred racing. It's easy to take it for granted when we're blessed with an athlete as brilliant as Winx - it'll be years from now when we're telling our grandkids about it that we'll truly appreciate how lucky we were to have watched her race."