Winx Bows Out With a Record 25 Gr 1 Wins – $26 Million and a Million Memories in the Bank
David Riccio, The Daily Telegraph
April 8, 2017 6:11pm
SHE’S the Queen of the turf, who can make grown-men cry.
Described by racing experts as a freak, a legend and the greatest, Winx, is the unbeaten five-year old mare, who breaks hearts and records.
And that’s just on the racetrack.
This morning, the Australian Turf Club bean counters will sit down with their calculator to prove why Winx is the greatest attraction in Australian sport; worth more $1 million in ticket sales and merchandise every time she races.
“It’s impossible to put a figure on her pulling power and what she means to our bottom line,’’ ATC chief executive Darren Pearce said yesterday.
“But I’d be comfortable in calling her the million dollar mare.’’
If yesterday’s 26,801 Royal Randwick crowd is anything to go by, Pearce’s seven-figure estimate is being conservative.
It’s the biggest crowd – including when fellow champion Black Caviar last raced in 2014 – since the redevelopment of the Randwick grandstand four years ago.
By 10.30am yesterday, still one hour before race one, a crowd of 8,000 had poured through the Alison Road turnstiles.
By midday, the punters who had paid their $40 entry ticket and were now sipping champagne on the Randwick concourse had already surpassed the average of 11,916 spectators who have so far attended the opening 21 NRL matches in Sydney this year.
Most of them were wearing the brilliant blue colours of the silks of Winx’s unflappable jockey Hugh Bowman.
On every corner of the track, at the bars and in the bookies auditorium, blue Winx caps and stubby holders were being sold for $20 and $10.
By the last race of the day, 7,000 caps and stubby holders had been sold, of which a percentage of the profits were being passed on to the Thoroughbred rehabilitation trust.
And the people, they came from everywhere.
From New Zealand and Newtown. From London and Lithgow. Dubai and Dalby.
All for just one mighty mare.
Such was the expectation of record-breaking crowd, the ATC increased their average Saturday Raceday security numbers from 60 guards, to 195.
Not that the $1.10 TAB favourite noticed.
She rarely does. Even when the masses stood as one to applaud her arrival inside the Theatre of The Horse, she barely flicked an eyelash.
The Australian National anthem, sung moments before the race, was superior in atmosphere and anticipation to any NRL grand final or State of Origin.
As Bowman has explained before, it’s not until the starting gates that Winx can get jumpy; that’s when the competitor kicks in.
In her grand final yesterday, the last run of her Autumn campaign, she failed to disappoint the thousands who had come to witness history.
“It’s as though she likes to prove to us why we get so wound up and nervous,’’ Winx’s lucky owner Peter Tighe said.
From the ideal draw in barrier three, Winx bounded from the 2000m start with typical ease.