Exclusive Photos: Winx heads for 33rd victory at Randwick - thanks to a special Mosman connection!
FORGET THE MELBOURNE CUP, THE RACE THAT STOPS A NATION HAPPENS AT 3:05PM TODAY, WHEN SUPERSTAR MARE WINX BRINGS THE CURTAIN DOWN ON AN EXTRAORDINARY CAREER, THANKS TO A SPECIAL MOSMAN CONNECTION, AS ANNA USHER DISCOVERED.
When the most famous racehorse in the world takes her final bow at Randwick this afternoon, it’s pretty fair to say there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
More than 40,000 are expected at the track for the most anticipated thoroughbred race in living memory.
But look beyond the screaming fans and you’ll find a quiet, unassuming man in the background, who is a huge part of the Winx story.
Mosman local Richard Treweeke owns the mighty mare, with Magic Bloodstock business partners Peter Tighe and Debbie Kepitis. He also named her.
“Her mother was called Vegas Showgirl – and if you’ve ever been to a show in Vegas you realise there’s some pretty good sorts up there on the stage,” he says.
“You wink at them and they wink back at you.
“That’s how the name came about - the rest is history.”
The 88-year-old former jackaroo grew up around horses both on and off the track – and like many country people, spent his weekends at regional race meetings.
Along the way, there were a few ‘moderate’ runners. But in 2013 Richard rolled the dice again, when he and Tighe put down $230,000 for a nice-looking filly at the Magic Millions sale on the Gold Coast.
It was the beginning of a fairy tale that would capture the hearts and minds of a nation.
Winx is the greatest female athlete the world has ever seen. A superstar on the same legendary pedestal as sporting icons like Bradman, Freeman, Laver and Thorpe. And in the past four years, she’s blazed down the straight to take 32 consecutive victories, more than any other horse in Australian turf history.
“What is surprising is that she’s mine,” Richard tells me, “this ride of a lifetime is so incredible and it’s actually hard to find the words to describe what it’s been like.”
The mighty mare has chalked up an incredible 24 Group 1 wins and is the only horse to take four straight Cox Plates, earning a prize pool of $24 million - and counting.
But it’s not about the money, Richard says, it never has been.
“I’ve owned and bred other winners, but this horse is in a rarified league, she’s a champions champion,” he says.
“To think that there are so many people across Australia and the world who love her makes me sit up straight.
“It’s incredible that all of this has come in my eighties and I thank my lucky stars every day.”
Too ill with vertigo and dizziness to travel, Richard is normally resigned to the couch to watch Winx race on TV. But not much will keep him from the track today.
“My intention is to be at Randwick, we have a group of about 50 and lots of rural friends coming,” he says.
With a full house of 42,000 expected trackside, and thousands more in local pubs and clubs, Richard agrees the build-up to the mare’s finale in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) has been intense but says Winx takes it all “in her stride”.
“Each race is like a dream or rather the ending because there have been a few heart-stopping, nightmare-ish moments. But I know that everything will be alright today. She’s got the best trainer in Chris Waller and the best jockey in Hughie Bowman.
“Outwardly I’m very calm but inside of course there is a level of nervousness, naturally, but that’s really because the weight of the world is on your shoulders and nobody wants to disappoint.
“I will make sure the champagne is ready – no matter what the outcome is.”
If it all goes to plan, the fairy tale ending of a storied career will happen just after 3:05pm this afternoon, when Winx blazes first past the post for 33rd – and final - time. There will be a sea of blue, deafening screams from an adoring crowd, followed by tears of joy and relief, as an awe-struck nation exhales.
“She loves all the attention,” Richard says, “she stops and poses for the photographers and she really responds to the roar of the crowd on the straight.
“We’ve all been humbled by the love and enthusiasm towards Winx, it’s fantastic the way she is adored.
“Her extraordinary winning streak has given people courage and hope in their own lives.”