1. Turn Me Loose: Turn Me Loose comes off a strong win in the G1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield boasting a last start Timeform rating of 125. He will provide stiff opposition to Winx. With the absence of any real speed, it is likely that Turn Me Loose will lead uncontested and if that is the case Winx will not want to be conceding too great a start in the straight as this fellow just keeps grinding away.
5. Winx: Has the adjusted Timeform ratings to get the job done if she is close to her Cox Plate level of 126. That means she has to improve again on her two runs back this preparation where she recorded 116p when winning the Apollo Stakes first up and then 120p when winning the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes, with those figures adjusted to 120 and 124 after the four pounds mares allowance is factored in.
Of course third up last campaign Winx demolished the 2015 Cox Plate field running to 126 and while that level of performance may not be needed today, she will need to run better than 120 (plus 4) if she is to hold out the talented kiwi.
And of course today Winx does not have optimum conditions. She will be out of her comfort zone to some degree as she drops back 100m in distance off a 21 day break when she would normally be progressing in distance.
Again Winx has been successful when dropping back in distance- something she did during the Brisbane winter campaign from the 2400m of the ATC Oaks to the Sunshine Coast Guineas 1600m in 35 days and winning easily.
If Winx can add the George Ryder to her CV today she will be the only horse in history in the same season to win the Cox Plate – Chipping Norton Stakes – George Ryder Stakes treble.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that only two horses have even won the Epsom Handicap – George Ryder Stakes double in the same season since 1903 – Vaals (1927/8) and Ciaro (1923/4).
There have been a few that have won both races in the same calendar year, Racing To Win the most recent in 2006, but the task of achieving it in the same season is historically just that much harder.
Gary Crispe – www.racingandsports.com.au