Winx will bid to extend her remarkable winning run to 30 races and beyond as the brilliant Australian mare stays in training next year.
There is confirmation too, however, in a statement from trainer Chris Waller that he will not succumb to any clamour to send the seven-year-old to Royal Ascot.
Instead, a home programme is being mapped out again for the record-breaking four-time Cox Plate winner to add to her 29 consecutive victories and 22 Group One successes.
Waller said: “She has nothing left to prove to us or her many followers, and we are under no illusion that she is getting a little older.
“However, she is in excellent condition both physically and mentally – and had she not pleased us in any area of her wellbeing or mental state, she would have been retired immediately.
“We will not commit to any races as yet, but it would be logical to follow the path we have previously – commencing in the Apollo Stakes at Royal Randwick in February – and if she did manage to get through a four-race preparation it would most likely culminate in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick.”
Waller spelled out that there can be no guarantee of any specific schedule.
He added: “I must stress to everyone that it shouldn’t be assumed she will be there – it will be a race-by-race assessment as it has always been, especially over the past two seasons when deciding whether to go towards a third Cox Plate, a second Queen Elizabeth or even a fourth Cox Plate as it was in her last start.”
“There will be many questions from different sectors relating to racing in other jurisdictions – which, in itself, could include numerous options.
“However, we have and will continue to keep things simple with Winx – and I believe that has been a big part of her longevity as well as something we are very proud of.”
Charlie Appleby hopes King’s Stand Stakes hero Blue Point can right the record by making amends in next year’s Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan.
The four-year-old was withdrawn from the Group One prize back in March – won in his absence by then stablemate Jungle Cat – because blood was found in his nostrils before he was loaded into the stalls.
After finishing third in the Nunthorpe on his final start in Britain this year, the son of Shamardal will spearhead the team set to represent the Newmarket trainer in Dubai.
Appleby said: “He has been out there and done it before, but unfortunately it didn’t happen for him in this year’s Al Quoz because the horse had the problem at the starting stalls.
“It was disappointing at the time. But that is racing, and two minutes later we were applauding Jungle Cat back into the winner’s enclosure.
“He did well after that incident, winning at Royal Ascot, and we know that five and six-furlong races are his gig. He will be aimed at sprint races out there, and we will work back from the Al Quoz again.”
King Edward VII Stakes and Great Voltigeur winner Old Persian will be among those joining Blue Point as well as dual French Group Two scorer Brundtland and Loxley, who triumphed at the same level when claiming the Grand Prix de Deauville in August.
Appleby added: “Loxley will be going out there to have a look at the Jebel Hatta, then possibly a tilt at something like the Dubai Turf, while Old Persian is a potential candidate for the City Of Gold.
“Brundtland is out there as well, and we will work back from the Dubai Gold Cup with him. We’ve still got to finalise all the handicappers, but it will be a nice team going there that should be competitive.”
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has been handed a major boost ahead of the 2019 season after confirming triple Group One winner Wild Illusion will stay in training.
Landing the Marcel Boussac on her final start at two, the daughter of Dubawi finished fourth in the 1000 Guineas on her return ahead of filling the runner-up spot in both the Oaks at Epsom and Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The decision to drop Wild Illusion back to a mile and a quarter proved a turning point following top-level victories the Nassau Stakes and Prix de l’Opera, before she signed off the year with second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs earlier this month.
Appleby said: “Wild Illusion is staying in training next season and for sure it is nice to have these good older horses.
“She lost nothing in defeat in the Breeders’ Cup and ever since her third run she has only raced at Group One level, except when running in the Ribblesdale (Group Two) at Royal Ascot.”
“We will see how she is in the spring and what progress she is making, and then look at what races we will take in.
“She is good at a mile and a quarter and I don’t see any reason why we should take her out of that sphere, as she has proven herself at the highest level over that trip.
“I don’t see anything much to gain by stretching her out for that extra two furlongs.”