Jockey James McDonald has spent four years chasing Winx – and he doesn’t expect that to change in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
But that won’t stop him from giving it his best with British import He’s Eminent.
The $4 million Group 1 at Randwick will be the final race for Winx and a victory would see her retire with her 33rd consecutive victory.
Revealing he wouldn’t mind becoming the most unpopular Kiwi in Australia if it meant beating Winx, McDonald nonetheless remains pragmatic about his chances.
“I’ve had four years of seeing her backside, so haven’t overcome that hurdle yet but I think you’ve just got to ride your own horse and if he’s good enough on the day he’s good enough,” he said. “But we’ve tried to beat her several times over the last four years and haven’t done so.”
McDonald rode Winx to victory once in 2015 – so he knows what he is up against.
He’s Eminent was in good form on Wednesday morning, taking a leisurely morning gallop at Canterbury.
Trainer Sir Mark Todd says he’s happy with the horse but he’s also a realist.
“All we can do is run our own race, our horse is a horse that likes to bowl along and that will be the plan,” he said. “If somebody wants to go and lead then we’re happy to take a sit.
“We will try and run our own race and we’ll just sort of set a nice tempo and see what happens.”
Despite training for a race with an almost foregone conclusion, there’s no regret from Sir Todd who like most is in awe of the legacy Winx leaves behind.
“I don’t think anybody has had this much excitement building up to a race, we’ve never had anything quite like Winx before and the whole atmosphere here is pretty amazing,” he said.
However, His Eminent’s future does rest on his performance on race day – with plans remaining “fluid”.
“Providing he runs a good race the plan at the moment is to travel up to Hong Kong on the way back to the UK and he will run in the Queen Elizabeth in two weeks time,” Sir Todd said.
From there it remains to be seen whether the five-year-old will take a tilt at Royal Ascot, return to Australia for the Cox Plate or go out to stud.