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Running scared: Winx's routine routs to produce bizarre career first

Winx's annihilation of her rivals for almost four years is poised to produce a bizarre career first – taking on only one rival outside her own stable for the first time.

The world's best racehorse is on the verge of headlining a race featuring almost exclusively Chris Waller-trained runners in the group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

And it will have people asking: who is left to fill fields against her for the rest of the farewell tour?

Just perennial challenger Happy Clapper, from the Pat Webster stable, is likely to head to the stalls for Winx's world record attempt as the only horse not attached to the yard of Sydney's all-conquering trainer Waller.

If such a scenario unfolds, it would be the first time Winx has taken on less than two non-Waller runners in a race during her record-breaking career, which is widely expected to include a 31st straight win.

An extension of nominations until late on Tuesday morning failed to generate any further entries for the Chipping Norton Stakes, which includes only Happy Clapper, Aloisia and Tavago not on Waller's books.

But Aloisia's connections confirmed the mare wouldn't take on Winx again in the Chipping Norton Stakes while Tavago, which hasn't raced for almost 18 months, is unlikely to venture to Sydney.

"More than likely we won't bring him up," Tavago's co-trainer Trent Busuttin said. "We're trying to find a track with 'give' more often than not which there can be up there, but I'm not sure we want to run against Winx first-up.

"Not that he would beat her at any stage, but we'll probably leave him down in Melbourne to run in the Blamey or the 1400 metre race down here and then come up for the Sky High."

It will leave just Happy Clapper, which has taken on Winx nine times already, to fly the flag outside Waller's contingent.

And even he is certain to head to Melbourne after the weekend to prepare for the All-Star Mile as Winx's superiority turns her final few races into a ticker-tape parade rather than any genuine test.

Happy Clapper ran second in the Apollo Stakes behind Winx a fortnight ago in a race which also included Aloisia, equalling the 2016 Caulfield Stakes for the record low entries outside her own stable. The Caulfield Stakes had just three runners that year.

Waller will whittle down his Chipping Norton support cast from Brimham Rocks, D'Argento, Egg Tart, Libran, Patrick Erin and Unforgotten when the final field is declared on Wednesday.

And the unusual sight of perhaps just one horse competing in a race outside his stable will prompt another discussion with Racing NSW stewards about the tactics adopted in the race.

"We do our own speed maps and if there's something different [that Waller presents] to what we have identified in our maps to his we'll have a look at it," said Racing NSW chief steward Marc van Gestel, who meets every Saturday morning with Waller to discuss any change of tactics for his runners.

It's probably business as usual, but we're mindful of the fact he does have the majority of the runners in the race.
Marc van Gestel

"We would ask him the question. His maps are almost the same as what we have. It's probably business as usual, but we're mindful of the fact he does have the majority of the runners in the race."

Winx is chasing a world record 23rd group 1 win, which would eclipse the record of jumper Hurricane Fly, in the second run of what is expected to be a farewell campaign.

Winx has won the last three Chipping Norton Stakes and was a $1.10 chance with BetEasy on Tuesday to join Tie The Knot as a four-time winner of the group 1 mile.

Article courtesy of Nine and The Canberra Times





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