International raider out to ruin Winx farewell
TWO of Australia's traditional sporting foes have teamed up to try to take down our wonder horse.
Kiwi trainer Sir Mark Todd is hoping to break hearts on Saturday when his British horse He's Eminent lines up against Winx in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick.
Todd, a gold medal winner in equestrian at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, arrived in Sydney from England five weeks ago, and has spent his time trying desperately to find a chink in Winx's armour.
He was spotted on Tuesday among a who's who of the racing world hoping to snap up the next champion on the first day of the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale at Warwick Farm.
Todd's He's Eminent is seen as the most likely contender to topple the super mare if she finally fails to deliver.
The 63-year-old said he would have no qualms about beating Winx on Saturday - even if it did make him public enemy No.1.
"Well we dream about it - I think I could live with it," Todd said.
"I've been a huge fan of Winx all along and this opportunity to come and race against (her) has only come up quite recently. I'd be happy if she wins, but I'd be happier if we win."
And he said he was hoping for clear weather to give He's Eminent a leg up.
"(I'm) a bit nervous as usual, but very happy with the horse and (hoping) the weather gods are going to hold out for us," Todd said.
Winx co-owner Peter Tighe, whose horse is going for a record 33rd straight win, said the nerves tended to build as the race neared.
"It'll build in the last couple of days, we've got to go there and the horse has got to be prepared. The races have an element of luck in them, so we've got to hope luck is on our side again, she turns up and everything goes all right," Tighe said.
"But so far this week everything has gone to plan."
Fellow Winx co-owner Debbie Kepitis said she was trying to stay level headed but admitted the emotion would creep in on Saturday.
"It's business as usual, trying to not think too much about Saturday, it's going to be an amazing day and a little bittersweet but look, she is absolutely flawless," she said.
International buyers along with big local names, including Gai Waterhouse and Winx's trainer Chris Waller, flocked to Riverside Stables on Tuesday to inspect yearlings, including Winx's niece.
Legendary trainer Waterhouse said she was "trying to find a champion".
"It's our No.1 sale in Australia, it's the most prestigious sale in Australia with buyers and breeders from around the world," she said.
"There's a mixture of everyone from every single country in the world comes here to try to buy the best of the best we can supply in Australia, and we do supply it."