Winx (pic. Lisa Grimm)
John Jeffs reckons there is nothing better than seeing a superstar come along. A new champion for the cause.
And if Winx isn’t quite there yet, she’s certainly not far from enjoying that rarified air if her victory in Saturday’s Group One Colgate Optic White (George Main) Stakes at Royal Randwick is any indication.
This was the mare’s 11th straight victory and, by achieving that milestone, she joins the legendary Kingston Town, a horse that Jeffs remembers, oh so well.
Track manager at Rosehill for 18 years, Jeffs was front and centre the day the ‘King’ made it 11 on end: “It was the STC Cup over 2400m on 27 September 1980 … he beat Over The Ocean, carrying 60 kilos. First prize? $30,000 plus a $400 trophy.
“That was his 21st start and before that run of 11 successive victories, he had already won six.
“There was this incredible aura about the horse: he ran last at his first start, then they cut (gelded) him and he came back for a race at Rosehill on 30 June 1979 where he absolutely brained ‘em at 33/1. They were the best odds you were ever likely to get about that horse!
“In fact, he was 10/1 on in the STC Cup. The start prior, the Chelmsford Stakes, he was 20/1 on and beat Ming Dynasty who won two Caulfield Cups and a pair of Australian Cups.
“You really can’t compare between the eras per se but a champion is a champion and there are definitely similarities. I noted that Winx is next likely to start in the Caulfield Stakes before attempting to win her second Cox Plate.
“After Kingston Town won his first Cox Plate, the following year he campaigned in the George Main, Caulfield Stakes and Cox Plate – winning all three – and he did exactly the same thing the following year when he won his third Cox Plate.
“One thing that you definitely can’t compare between the two though is prizemoney. They had a special rug made up for the 1981 STC Cup in anticipation of Kingston Town becoming the first Australian racehorse to win $1 million in prizemoney.
“By that stage he’d already won 21 races including an AJC Derby, a Sydney Cup, a Queensland Derby, a Rosehill Guineas and his first Cox Plate. They sent him out an 8/1 on favourite and naturally he won. It was the greatest moment in racing I’ve had putting that rug on.
“It just goes to show though how rewarding it can be to race a horse in Australia, especially when you look at Winx who cost $230,000 as a yearling, but has since won 15 races and a whopping $7.1 million. Imagine what that figure will be if she ends up equalling Kingston Town by winning three Cox Plates!
“You’ll never have trouble finding an argument in a bar once you start trying to tell someone that a horse racing today is equal to or better than your favourite from yesteryear, but one thing champions do from any era is put bums on seats, or more appropriately, a crowd on their feet. Kingston Town or Winx … you’re just happy to have been around to watch them race!”