Winx prepares for final race of her glittering career

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Winx is all set for her anticipated swansong in the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes this weekend, despite providing a touch of pre-race drama after her final gallop.

Chris Waller’s all-conquering mare will bid for her 33rd successive victory – and 25th Group One – when she runs in what is expected to be the last race of her record-breaking career at Randwick on Saturday.

The seven-year-old pride of Australia caused connections brief consternation, though, when she kicked out at railings – leaving a hole in an advertising sign – after her Rosehill track exercise on Thursday.

She then had to be cleared by veterinary checks, and a statement was later posted on the Racing New South Wales website – allaying any fears of injury.

It read: “Racing NSW official veterinarian Dr James Mizzi and stable veterinarian Dr Ross Alexander this morning conducted a detailed lameness examination of Winx following the mare kicking out in the mounting enclosure at Rosehill Gardens and her hind legs making contact with a sponsor sign attached to a gate.

“Dr Mizzi & Dr Alexander have reported that Winx was free in her action and no abnormalities were detected. As a result the mare has been passed fit to start in Saturday’s Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes.”

It was a moment of concern her trainer could happily have done without, but Waller believes Winx’s behaviour also proves her well-being.

He said: “As you can see, she’s a horse – they’re unpredictable – but she’s very well, very fresh, very bright, ready to go.

“Obviously it’s a big morning with a lot of cameras and people everywhere – and they can get a bit fresh from time to time.

“She’s certainly ready to explode is probably the better word of this morning.”

Waller had taken Winx’s earmuffs off after her gallop, under regular big-race jockey Hugh Bowman – a move that might have contributed to her fractious manoeuvre in front of a large media contingent in Sydney.

“I shouldn’t have taken the earmuffs off this morning,” he said.

“I just wanted to take them off so you could all see her without the earphones. But as soon as I did, she could hear the clicking and the clacking – so I probably shouldn’t have done that.

“I was just trying to do the right thing by everybody to see her for what she actually is, behind the mask so to speak. As you saw, she’s very fresh – but she’s safe and ready to go.”

Looking forward to Saturday’s race, he added: “Hopefully it’s a fairytale ending.”

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Godolphin's Ghaiyyath primed for first run of season at ParisLongchamp

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Charlie Appleby hopes Ghaiyyath can continue to make up for lost time by making his class count in the Prix d’Harcourt at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

The Newmarket handler will pitch the four year old son of Dubawi – who was at one stage a leading contender of last year’s Investec Derby – into Group Two company for the first time in the mile-and-a-quarter contest.

After missing the bulk of last season through injury Ghaiyyath made a his sole start a winning one when adding a second Group Three victory to his name over course and distance in the Prix du Prince d’Orange.

Appleby said: “He has been over to Dubai, but he has been back here for a couple of weeks now and we are pleased with what we have seen. Obviously he is an exciting horse.

“He was supposed to be our Derby horse, but unfortunately he went wrong five days out from the Dante.

“We missed the Derby and most the summer, but he came back and won his only start last year he won the Prix du Prince d’Orange.

“We did contemplate having a crack at the Champion Stakes with him, but we just felt this year was going to be his year so we thought we would wait.

“The plan is to hopefully use this as a stepping stone towards the Ganay. He has won two Group Three races and is now stepping up to a Group Two, which will be a bit harder.

“We will see if he can handle this assignment and if he wins then for sure we will look at the Ganay.”

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Godolphin's Epsom Derby hero Masar set for Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe bid

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All roads will lead to a shot at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for last year’s Investec Derby hero Masar when he returns from injury, according to trainer Charlie Appleby.

The four-year-old son of New Approach has been sidelined since meeting with a setback after his victory in the Epsom Classic last June, during his build up to a planned tilt at the Eclipse at Sandown.

An outing in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot has been mentioned as a possible starting point for Masar, but his Newmarket trainer warns he will not be rushing him back for the sake of lining up in the Group Two prize.

Appleby said: “I mentioned the Hardwicke at Ascot as a potential comeback, because that is the most obvious race for him. That is what we would like to do – and at the moment timing-wise, it looks potentially achievable.

“At the end of the day the biggest disappointment last year was missing the Eclipse and the second half of the season with him, and an outing in the Arc.

“If we didn’t make Royal Ascot it wouldn’t be the be all and end all, because the Arc is my main aim – and that is what we are working back from.

“If we are ready enough for Royal Ascot then for sure we will be there – but if we don’t think it is right then we won’t go.”

Having sent Masar over to Dubai for the winter to help him recover from his injury, Appleby is pleased with the progress he has seen.

He said: “He has pleased us week on week in Dubai. He is cantering away now on the treadmill and we can control his pace on there and what we want him to do.
“We’ve still got a bit to go yet before we start to press any buttons.

“Until you get to a certain level of fitness, you don’t know how that injury is going to stand up – but at the minute all the signs are very positive.”

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