Why Winx was a winner for racing beyond the track

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(Steve Christo/AAP)

At a time when horse racing has never been too far from from the front pages for all the wrong reasons, Winx provided a positive and fairytale run over almost four years of racing without defeat. A record crowd on Saturday, mixed with old and new racing fans, gathered at Royal Randwick to witness her final race.

Putting aside what Winx achieved on the track with a record 25 wins at the highest level and 33 wins in a row, her legacy to the sport of racing will be what she provided to a new era of fandom.

She’s been globally recognised as the horse of the year, had her own beer, been the tool used by many a politician trying to relate to their voters, and even run in a race named after her. Winx crossed over into uncharted territory where no racehorse had gone before.

Two close friends of mine, who were never that interested in horse racing, travelled to join the 40,000+ crowd in celebrating the final race in Winx’s career. She’d captured the imagination of those who wouldn’t have ever thought they’d be interested in horse racing, like my friend Myles.

“I wasn’t into racing, in fact I’d never been to the races up until a few years ago and that’s because of Winx, she’s a champion. To be as dominant as she is on the track is hard to comprehend, she gives you butterflies and your heart’s racing when she tries to circle the field. I’ve got a framed poster on the wall and it’s a prized possession, she really is the best.” 

A record crowd at The Championships crowding the fence for a glimpse of the unforgettable mare. Photo: Zac Van Embden

But her impact and legacy was global. As we parked ourselves as close to the fence as possible, I spoke with a seasoned racing fan, a smaller older gentleman wearing a top hat who couldn’t have possibly seen a thing but had travelled from Yorkshire, England, to see Winx’s final race. His name was Neil.

“I’d only seen Winx in the early hours of the morning, but I had to see her one time in person and well. This is it isn’t it?” he said.

Stories like Myles’ and Neil’s were a constant all day, I had heard a mixture of accents at the track and also spoke with people who hadn’t quite established what gender Winx was but were happy to be part of the spectacle.

That’s what I love about racing and the power of a champion, no one who went to Royal Randwick will forget where they were on April 13. I know I won’t. 

Winx heads back to scale post-race

 

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