Owner reveals Winx slowly recovering from ordeal
The phone call Peter Tighe had been waiting anxiously for came at about 5am - but it wasn't the news he was expecting.
"I thought the stud was ringing to tell me Winx had given birth to her first foal,'' Tighe said.
"But the caller said there is no easy way of saying this, so he told me straight up that Winx had lost her foal.
"It was devastating because that was the one scenario we had not planned for.''
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Winx, the all-time great mare who won 33 races in succession, including 25 at Group 1 level, had gone through her pregnancy without complications, only for her foal to be stillborn.
Tighe, a part-owner of Winx with Debbie Kepitis and Richard Treweeke, admitted that he was in shock after taking the early-morning phone call.
Winx provided Tighe with so many wonderful memories because of her phenomenal racetrack success but this was a tragic moment he would prefer to forget.
"It was so upsetting for all the owners,'' he said.
"But in this game you have to take the hard knocks.''
For those involved in the racing and breeding industry, there is a tacit acknowledgment of the infrequent highs and inevitable lows that are part of this sport.
Some five weeks after that fateful morning, Tighe revealed that Winx was continuing to recover from her ordeal but whether there is enough time for her to be served by a stallion this spring looks very unlikely.
But Tighe continues to ride racing's rollercoaster and is hoping another of his gallopers, Mister Sea Wolf, can successfully defend his title in the $1 million The Gong (1600m) at Kembla Grange on Saturday.
Mister Sea Wolf started racing in April six years ago before Winx had her first race and the Irish-bred gelding is still going strong.
He's now a nine-year-old but seems to be racing as well as ever. He won the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes earlier this spring and goes into The Gong after his closing sixth to Gytrash in the Yes Yes Yes Stakes three weeks ago.
"Mister Sea Wolf is reliving his youth,'' Tighe said.
"Chris (Waller) is very happy with him and he gets to a favourable track and distance.
"If he can carry the weight (60kg) from his good barrier (six) then he is right in the firing line.
"He hasn't gone backwards this preparation so fingers crossed we get the right run to win the race.''
Mister Sea Wolf is lining up for his 53rd start and if he can record his 13th win he will take his earnings beyond the $2 million barrier.
Tighe shares the ownership of Mister Sea Wolf with his close friend and business associate Noel Greenhalgh.
Mister Sea Wolf had won six races in England and Ireland before joining the Waller stable three years ago.
"It was a team effort by Noel and (bloodstock expert) Guy Mulcaster, who found Mister Sea Wolf,'' Tighe said.
"Noel did the business, negotiating the sale. I took a 20 per cent share and he has 30 per cent of the horse.
"The guy who originally owned Mister Sea Wolf, David Spratt, kept 50 per cent.
"He stayed in the ownership. He felt it was the right type of horse to send to Australia and the horse has paid us back tenfold.''
Although Mister Sea Wolf's racetrack performances are dwarfed by mighty Winx's towering feats, the veteran gelding did provide Tighe with one of his best days on a racetrack when he won The Gong last year.
Tighe said getting the opportunity to enjoy Mister Sea Wolf's win in The Gong with Greenhalgh made the race day such a memorable occasion.
The two men met more than 20 years ago at the Brisbane markets, where both have thriving businesses.
"Noel and I have known each other for a long time,'' Tighe said.
"We are on a couple of boards together. We race horses together so we have a number of common interests.
"I remember last year, we flew from Brisbane to Sydney and got a car to Kembla and had a great day out.
"It is a 'not to be missed event' and if not for COVID we would be there with bells on again.
"We were looking at trying to get down for the day but it's a whole lot of mucking around so it is highly unlikely we will go.
"But races like The Gong are brilliant ideas and it is what racing needed at just the right time.
"They have been well supported and there is a good return to owners. It's good for the sport and the profile of racing.''
TAB Fixed Odds price assessors rate Mister Sea Wolf as a $13 chance in latest betting on The Gong behind $5 favourite Dawn Passage.
Reloaded, who is also raced by Tighe and Greenhalgh, is at $26 but has had an indifferent spring campaign, including his struggling effort in heavy conditions in the Golden Eagle last start.
However, the Waller-trained four-year-old is a dual Group 1 placegetter at 1600m and is set to run a competitive race at Kembla Grange, according to Tighe.
"Reloaded's had a few little setbacks this spring,'' Tighe said. "It's been nothing major, just niggling things, and I think that has showed in some of his runs.
"But he has got over all that. He's in tip-top shape now so we are expecting some good things from him.''
If Mister Sea Wolf can shoulder his 60kg impost and win his second successive The Gong, or if Reloaded can find his best form again, it will be another reminder for Tighe of racing's ebb and flow.
Tighe's thoughts returned to revered mare Winx, who is continuing her convalescence after losing her foal last month.
"Winx is going OK, she is getting over it now,'' Tighe said.
"She took a week or two to pick up but she is doing OK now and receiving the best of veterinary care.
"I'm just glad the mare has come through it and hopefully we can breed with her in time. She will make a great mum one day.''
Originally published as Owner reveals Winx slowly recovering from ordeal