Winx might have never made it to Queen Elizabeth II’s racecourse of Ascot but she got the royal seal of approval after her farewell race when trainer Chris Waller received a personal message from Her Majesty.
The emotional trainer was again moved to tears as he recalled opening the message congratulating him on Winx’s wonder career, which concluded with a third win in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday.
“The Queen sent a message through - it was pretty special,” Waller said. “You don’t expect that.
“She watched the race and it came from her people but it was very personal. There have been so many messages from around the world I haven’t had time to look at them all yet. It is something I will sit down and look at later.”
Waller, who usually has Sundays away from his stables, paraded Winx in front the media on Sunday morning as the reality of her retirement started to sink in.
She leaves racing with a new audience after going on a four-year unbeaten run that invited everyone back to the back to the track. She finished with a world record of $26,451,174 in career earnings, which came from 37 wins, 25 at group 1 level in a 43-start career.
“What an amazing journey and an amazing horse. It was a great team effort and yesterday really was something special,” Waller said. “We just hoped for a fairytale result and she delivered it.”
Waller said he had no regrets about not taking on the world and will have time to reflect on Winx’s career for years to come. He admitted the next couple of days would be tough as he and his staff said goodbye to the champion mare.
He turned down the idea that Winx was the greatest horse in Australian history but was proud that she was in the conversation.
"She is very close to it and I couldn’t tell you the horse that is [the greatest]. I don’t think that would be fair," Waller said.
"There have been so many great horses. The fact that she is even spoken in the same sentence as a Phar Lap and other horses, like Black Caviar, is special.
"Because there is no race between it is hard to quantify it. What she has done. What the media has done to get behind her, and most importantly the Winx fans, has really propelled her up there as one of the best.
"We are proud of that and that will never change."
Winx will be not be remembered for one race but four years of dominance.
She won four Cox Plate, four Chipping Norton Stakes, four George Ryder Stakes and four times at The Championships.
She won handicaps like the Epsom and the Doncaster Mile but was simply untouchable with her surging style that repeatedly saw her go from back in the ruck to racing away in a few strides.
It is the longevity, which Waller is most proud of with Winx, but he always knew he had an edge on his rivals during the four-year wining run.
"It can only be done when the athlete is superior to the rest and that is what we have been working with. She has made us look pretty good," Waller said.
"It is hard to quantify but I would say she is 10 percent better than her opposition. To be 10 percent better than rivals over a four-year period, that’s how this winning streak has been able to keep rolling.
"That 10 percent has been in our favour for a long time and made all of our decisions look pretty smart."
Article courtesy of Nine and The Sydney Morning Herald