In the race to find an Australian role model that has demonstrated hard work, grit and honesty in the last year, one Aussie paper has decided the only one in the running is a horse.
Finding a dearth of idols in the two-legged sporting, political, cultural or academic worlds, The Daily Telegraph on Thursday named champion thoroughbred Winx its own “Australian of the Year”.
“Has the nominee lived by the Australian values of fair play and civility?” the paper asked, beginning a long list of requisite qualities to earn the title.
The Sydney paper said the horse — which has won dozens of races and is expected to soon retire — was the only Australian that met the winning criteria.
The honour was not “bestowed lightly,” the paper said.
The announcement comes the day before an annual award ceremony to name the official Australian of the Year, a major event that takes place on the eve of Australia Day, 26 January.
The eight 2019 nominees — all human — include Richard Harris, who worked to rescue 12 Thai kids trapped in a cave, multiple medal winning Paralympian Kurt Fearnley and social activist Bernadette Black.
Previous winners include Nobel prize winning scientists and Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan.
Winx (foaled 14 September 2011) is a champion Australian Thoroughbred racehorse. Starting in May 2015, she has won 29 consecutive stakes races including 22 Group 1s (a world record), at distances ranging from 1300 metres (roughly 6 1⁄2 furlongs) to 2200 metres (roughly 11 furlongs). In the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, she was the second-ranked filly or mare in 2015, improving in 2016 to become both the world’s top-ranked filly or mare and the world’s top-ranked turf horse. She retained this ranking in 2017 and in 2018 was co-ranked with Cracksman as the best horse in the world. In 2017 she was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, only the third horse to earn this honour while still in training.
Winx began her racing career with three straight wins but then won only one race in her next seven starts. Towards the end of her three-year-old campaign, she rebounded to win two races in May 2015, including the Group 1 Queensland Oaks, to start her winning streak. As a four-year-old, she was named the 2015/6 Australian Horse of the Year and middle distance Champion after a seven race campaign that included wins in the Cox Plate and Doncaster Mile. In the 2016/7 season, she successfully defended her 2015 Cox Plate win with a commanding eight length victory over rival Hartnell. She completed the season with a win in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and was again named Horse of the Year.
For the 2017/8 season, she earned her third Horse of the Year honour after recording seven straight wins, including her third victories in the Cox Plate, Chipping Norton and George Ryder and her second win in the Queen Elizabeth. Winx began her seven-year-old campaign on 18 August 2018, in a race re-named in her honour and in doing so extended her winning streak to an Australasian record of 26. In October, Winx became the first horse in history to win the prestigious Cox Plate four times. She is the leading Australasian money-earner in history. She won the 2018 Secretariat Vox Populi Award, the top choice among race fans in a record 60 countries
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