License article

Winx proves exceptional, even among elite company that includes Sunline and Makybe Diva

Forgive me, master, but Winx is capable of doing what few other champions could achieve – win major events from the metric six furlongs to 3200 metres.

"Champions should be enjoyed not compared," Bart Cummings decreed, a worthy instruction. But Winx, even in the elite category, is exceptional, as was epitomised in her George Ryder Stakes triumph at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, the best since 1986 when it commenced under the current conditions, and prior, which encompasses greats such as Emancipation and Manikato.

Up Next

Winx claims miraculous win after horror start

Video duration

More Horse Racing Videos

Winx makes it 16 straight

Winx has won the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill, while She Will Reign took out the $3.5 million Golden Slipper.

Saturday's George Ryder was certainly one of the most unpleasant from a viewing point of view, with wet seats for those who wanted to see the great mare live. But the damp at Rosehill could not take anything away from the dazzle of the day, generated by Winx and fuelled further by one of the great Golden Slipper rides from Ben Melham on She Will Reign.

Prior to last Saturday, the best George Ryder win was by Lonhro (2004) when I felt no horse in the world would have beaten him. Yet Winx was superior, albeit in the slush, because the chasers were group 1-strong and she donkey-licked them, fulfilling one of the requirements of a champion.

Champions to me are something personal, experienced by being up close and not from the record book. You may have a 100 but mine are Todman, Tulloch, Kingston Town, Sunline, Makybe Diva, Black Caviar and Winx, who I think could win a Melbourne Cup and an Everest over 1200 metres next spring.

Once upon a time, the big quid tempted the best to take on the Flemington two miles outside their comfort zone. For instance, Flight, a great mare of her day, was unplaced in 1946 under 57.5kg.


Makybe Diva notched her third Melbourne Cup humping 58kg, so it would be an intriguing exercise to enter Winx this year to see what weight she would get.

But while Makybe Diva could be prepared to run 1200m – Col Hayes always maintained staying power was speed extended – she would not be in the Winx class over sprint distance. Sunline would be effective over the extreme staying journeys as well as short courses but not as good as the distance got longer.

On the versatility front, Kingston Town compares favourably with Winx but the dynamic of Tulloch wouldn't have built up over six furlongs to the same degree.

Todman's beautiful flowing action, similar to Winx's, against the best would have generated him beyond a mile and quarter but no doubt the Melbourne Cup would have tested him.

Of course, Black Caviar never raced further than 1400 metres and Phar Lap couldn't generate the sprint brilliance of Winx that would have her hot favourite if the Everest was run in two weeks. And her staying power potential from the two Cox Plates at Moonee Valley is a recommendation for the 3200m, as is her AJC Oaks (2400m) second under a sloppy ride.

Perhaps the Rosehill attendance of Saturday didn't top 14,000, hardly comparable to the 40,000-plus that watched Vain's Golden Slipper (1969), but that those who braved one of the worst weather days were well rewarded.

Apart from Vain, the Golden Slipper produced an exceptional saddle performance when Melham took She Will Reign - the filly didn't begin slow like runner-up, Frolic - back to seek the best lane closer to the fence when most navigators figured it was out wide.

The ground and energy saved made considerable difference to a filly, perfectly tuned by Gary Portelli for a syndicate racing a $20,000 yearling that took on youngsters purchased for hundreds of thousands.

George Ryder, the founding father of the Golden Slipper, would have been delighted because he was also one of the instigators of racehorse owner syndicates. And Winx winning the race named in his honour keeps his name where it should be as one of the turf's foremost administrators.