OPERATION ‘Get Winx’ should go into overdrive at Racing Victoria headquarters today.
The introduction of The All-Star Mile is a brilliant concept that ticks all the boxes in terms of prizemoney and fan engagement but it needs a flag bearer in year one.
And who better than the horse many believe is the greatest in history.
While trainer Chris Waller is yet to commit to Winx’s future plans, it’s universally thought she will have her goodbye tour in Sydney through the autumn, culminating in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes which she has won twice.
Over the past three years Winx has resumed racing in February and followed the same path through the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) and then on to the Group 1 George Ryder (1500m).The All-Star Mile at Flemington falls on March 16 next year, two weeks after the Chipping Norton and a week before the George Ryder.
While Winx’s connections always say it’s not about the money and always about the horse, there is a compelling argument to tinker with the program and head south.
The cash and kudos with winning the inaugural All-Star Mile has to be appealing.
A winner’s cheque of $2.25 million is more than two thirds the prizemoney they’d get for winning another George Ryder.
Apart from the perfect timing regarding Winx, the new race is the burst of freshness the Victorian scene desperately needed.
As much as we love all the traditional races in the spring, the autumn has been a bit of a lost zone with the Australian Cup not really holding the status it once did.
Sydney clearly stole the march here by creating The Championships which is a two-week bonanza of Group races at Randwick in early April with more than $21 million in prizemoney on offer.
The argy-bargy between the two states has gone to new heights since the introduction of The Everest two years ago.This was a game-changer in many ways and Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys has been the perfect trumpet blower.
The Everest concept involves 12 slots for the race which are purchased and are then transferable, being onsold or leased to anyone who is willing to pay.
They strategically put the richest sprint race in the world up against the Caulfield Guineas, which hurt the Melbourne carnival.
Intrigue around which horses will be secured by which slot holders stole headlines and then when V’landys caused a national outcry by having the barrier draw beamed onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House, the PR battle was a knockout victory.
This helped mask the quality of the actual field, with Redzel winning the $13 million race for the second consecutive year.
Flemington’s final day sprint race — the VRC Sprint Classic, which was won by Santa Ana Lane — was a better field with about one-tenth of the fanfare.While Racing Victoria will play down the rivalry with Sydney, this new event certainly is a shot across the bow to V’landys. He will try and talk it down but the reality is he’s going to have to swallow some of his own medicine if a horse called Winx is parading around Flemington in March.