Arrogate’s Global Challenger Winx Returning to Australian Racing this Weekend

Now that California Chrome has retired following his defeat in last month’s Pegasus World Cup, Arrogate has proven himself as the world’s best active racehorse.
By David Haslett, President & CEO of Sky Racing World

However, the Bob Baffert-trained colt faces strong global competition from Winx, the next-best ranked international horse who returns to Australian racing in the G2 Apollo Stakes this Friday night, starting a 2017 campaign that will culminate in this April’s G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the feature event of The Championships.

Recently named the ‘Best Racehorse on Turf’ by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, Winx is at the peak of her career as she prepares for the Apollo Stakes, according to trainer Chris Waller. The 6-year-old mare enters the Stakes on the back of a 13-race winning streak in the 2016 season and boasts nine G1 wins, including last year’s Doncaster Mile and back-to-back Cox Plates. Winx holds a 73% percent win and 86% place rate.

The Apollo Stakes
Winx’s highly-anticipated comeback with jockey Hugh Bowman takes place this Saturday, Feb. 10th at 11:10 p.m. EST or 8:10 p.m. PST in the 7f G2 Apollo Stakes at Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse. Winx is the reigning Apollo champion and early odds put her as 6/5 favorite to win this year’s race, which has a purse of $250,000 AUD ($190,000).
Her main challengers are the 2016 G1 Caulfield Guineas winner Divine Prophet and the Godolphin Stable’s Hartnell, Australia’s next highest-rated horse who’s ranked eighth internationally by Longines. Hartnell boasts a hat-trick of major wins from 2016 including the G1 Turnbull Stakes, and also came second to Winx in last year’s Cox Plate. Could the 5-year-old gelding get his revenge this weekend?

The Chipping Norton Stakes
The Apollo Stakes serves as a lead-up to the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes, held at Warwick Farm Racecourse in Sydney at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25th (midnight EST or 9:00 p.m. PST on Friday, Feb. 24th). The one mile race, which has a $600,000 AUD purse ($460,000), features some of the top 3-year-old and over horses in the Sydney racing season. The odds are yet to be released, but as last year’s Chipping Norton winner Winx will likely be race favorite, especially if she continues her winning streak by defending her Apollo Stakes title.

The George Ryder Stakes
Next month, the big event in the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival is the 15/16 mile G1 George Ryder Stakes at the city’s Rosehill Gardens Racecourse on Saturday, March 18th at 3.10 p.m. Sydney time (12:10 a.m. EST or 9.10pm PST on Friday, Feb. 17th). Winx came first in last year’s George Ryder Stakes, becoming the first winning mare in this weight-for-age race in 20 years. Trainer Waller has coached four horses to victory in the last seven George Ryder Stakes and is hoping Winx can make it a fifth to collect the $1 million AUD (US $760,000) prize money.

The Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Winx’s autumn campaign will climax with the following month’s G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The 1¼ mile race takes place on Saturday, April 8th, at 4:25 p.m. local time (2:25 a.m. EST or 11.25 p.m. PST on Friday, April 7th) during Day 2 of The Championships at Royal Randwick. Winx is the headline nominee and is expected to compete against leading rival Hartnell for the $4 million AUD ($2.3 million) purse.

How Winx performs against Hartnell and other Australian horses leads to a bigger question: how will she compare with Arrogate this year? The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt’s own trainer Bob Baffert has praised Winx in a recent XBTV interview, calling her the Australian Zenyatta.

Nonetheless, due to the timing of Australia’s Cox Plate in late October and the Breeders’ Cup in early November, it’s unlikely that the two horses will meet this year. Perhaps organizers of The Pegasus International can find a way to motivate Winx’s connections to bring her to the USA and challenge Arrogate at the 2018 event.

American race fans can follow Winx’s 2017 campaign starting this Friday night at Sky Racing World. North American handicapper’s can wager and live-stream Australian racing via ADWs such as TVG, TwinSpiresTVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, BetAmerica, WatchandWager, and NYRA Bets and HPiBet.

About David Haslett
A former Managing Director of Sportech Racing, David was appointed President and CEO of Sky Racing World in April 2014. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company, a subsidiary of Australian wagering firm Tabcorp, provides Australian, New Zealand, South African and South American racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks.

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