Don’t be fooled into thinking the global racing scene is static — and the evidence was gloriously provided over the weekend on opposite sides of the world.
Tales of racing exploits in Australia and America in the past 72 hours underline the long-argued point that it takes only a great horse — or one of such potential — to enliven the scene and spark excitement at all levels.
In Sydney on Monday, the great mare Winx sauntered to a comfortable win in the G2 Apollo Stakes at Randwick on her reappearance following an absence of over three months.
Because of the unusual circumstances — the meeting had been postponed from Saturday because of a heatwave — a crowd of around 6,000 flocked late afternoon to the premier city track, many cutting short their working day in offices in the Central Business District.
The marketing officials were in their element, inviting Sydneysiders to pop into Randwick on their way home, with an appealing slogan to come and watch ‘Winx After Work.’
Nobody could argue that it wasn’t effective, and the star of the show did her part by cruising home to equal the great Phar Lap’s record of 14 consecutive victories.
Winx, a daughter of the late Darley stallion Street Cry, will have two more runs prior to her main Autumn objective, the G1 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on April 8.
Winx is already an Australian great, having earned her place at the champions’ table that includes Phar Lap, Carbine, Tulloch, Kingston Town and Black Caviar.
The American three-year-old McCraken has a long way to go to reach that level, but he remains unbeaten after four starts, and on Saturday edged a little closer to consolidating his place in the line-up for the G1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6.
McCraken is a potential three-year-old star, who could well work his way to the top of the tree in coming weeks.
The son of Ghostzapper won the G3 Sam F Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in track record time — he ran the mile and one-sixteenth in 1min 42.45secs — and as Ian Wilkes, his trainer, points out, over the years there have been plenty of good horses run over that distance at the track.
The trail to Louisville in May is about to get a little crowded.
In the meantime, let’s rejoice that an established champion is back in action in Australia, and also that the relentless search of for another American Triple Crown winner is well under way.