The 2019 Winx Stakes is the first Group 1 event of the new racing season and we are set for an outstanding race at Royal Randwick this Saturday.
Avilius has opened as favourite, but he will face stiff competition from the likes of Happy Clapper, Invincible Gem and Verry Elleegant.
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Avilius has opened as the favourite in Winx Stakes betting, but I can’t get him anywhere near as short as his current quote. He showed his quality when he won the Peter Young Stakes, Ranvet Stakes and Tancred Stakes in the Autumn, but this is a completely different type of race. This will be his first go at 1400 metres and he maps to get a long way back in the run with Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle. I expect to see him storming home late and I think that he will win a Group 1 during the Spring, but I don’t think that it will be in the Winx Stakes.
Happy Clapper is the horse to beat in the Winx Stakes. He hasn’t won a race in over 12 months, but you can’t knock his form in that period. First-up in the Autumn he finished second behind Winx in the Apollo Stakes and he produced a rating that would be more than good enough to win this contest. He has won first-up over this trip in the past and he does produce all of his best form in Sydney. Hugh Bowman will give him a lovely run in transit from barrier five and he will have every possible chance to claim another Group 1 win.
Le Romain returned to the races in the Missile Stakes and he was handily beaten by both Alizee and Invincible Gem. It has been over a year since he scored a race win and there are some signs that his best days might be beyond him. Throw in the fact that he has never won over 1400 metres and $18 does look around the right price.
Best Of Days
There were big things expected for Best Of Days in the Autumn, but he was sent to the spelling paddock after he refused to jump in the Futurity Stakes. He claimed a maiden Group 1 win in the Kennedy Mile during the 2018 Spring Racing Carnival, but he has never really delivered at weight-for-age level. The Azamour gelding would need to produce a career best performance to be any chance in the Winx Stakes.
Kings Will Dream
It is great to see Kings Will Dream back at the races after he suffered a nasty injury in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate. He showed his quality during the Spring and he did produce one of the highest-rated performances of his career when he finished third behind Humidor and Kementari in the Memsie Stakes. There is no doubt that he will take plenty of benefit from this run and I hope to see him storming home late.
Samadoubt will return to the races for the first time since he finished fifth in the Sky High Stakes. I like the horse, but he has never shown anything to suggest that he is capable of winning a race of this quality.
Invincible Gem has a fitness edge over the majority of her main rivals after she finished second behind Alizee in the Missile Stakes. She did run well in the Missile Stakes, but Hugh Bowman was very easy on Alizee and the margin did probably flatter her. This race does have more depth and she generally does take a step backwards second-up. $10 is the right price.
Unforgotten was thereabouts without winning in the Autumn and it will be interesting to see where she heads this campaign. Her first-up record isn’t particularly good and she generally does improve the further that she gets into her preparation. I don’t really see her figuring in this contest and the $10 currently available is under the odds.
Youngstar will return to the races for the first time since she produced a disappointing effort in the Doomben Cup. She hasn’t won a race since she took out the 2018 edition of the Queensland Oaks and she has generally been outclassed at weight-for-age level. She is another that should take benefit from this run.
Verry Elleegant is the x-factor in the Winx Stakes field. She could hardly have been more impressive in the Autumn and she strung together dominant wins in the Phar Lap Stakes, Vinery Stud Stakes and the Australian Oaks. This will be the first time that she has taken on the older horses and she will be better over further, but there is no doubt that she is a serious talent and it would not surprise to see her start her Spring campaign with a win.