Australia is in the grip of Winx fever again with sports fans eager to see the champion racehorse create history by winning her third consecutive Cox Plate this weekend.
The mighty mare is aiming for the triple crown in Saturday’s race at Moonee Valley in Melbourne.
More than 30,000 racing fans are expected to cram* into the suburban track, making it the biggest crowd there for more than a decade.
Winx would join Kingston Town as the only three-time Cox Plate winner if she is first past the post in the $3 million event.
Yesterday Winx drew barrier six for the big race and her jockey Hugh Bowman said afterwards he was pleased with the gate. He doesn’t get nervous, he said, but will consider in coming days how he will plot* the race.
Six-year-old Winx galloped on the Moonee Valley course yesterday morning in front of a large Breakfast with the Best crowd, which was silenced as she turned and sped beautifully down the straight as the sun rose.
And trainer Chris Waller, who admitted there is pressure going into Saturday, described her as “an absolute professional” when it matters most.
“It was exactly what we wanted to see (ahead of Saturday),” he said.
“Most of her work is done now, of course. We’re into Grand Final week and just making sure that the team’s happy and everything’s going to plan.
“I couldn’t be any happier and my jockey Hugh Bowman is in the exact same feeling.
“You can see it in the horse, and the team at home is very happy with the way that her preparation has gone. The beauty of Winx is she makes our job easier. She’s an absolute professional. What you see on race day is exactly what you see every day of the week with her and it’s an absolute privilege* to be a part of her career.”
Waller said there is “a bit of confidence” going into the race, with Winx rated a $1.15 chance to defeat the others in the field of nine.
But he knows better than to let that go to his head having been at the Valley in this week for the past few years.
“The first year, there was no feeling — it was just amazing to have a horse in a Cox Plate, and it’s a great part of Australian history,” Waller said.
“To win the race was amazing and then to come back and try and defend the title was daunting.
“To think she could win two Cox Plates — not many horses have done that, and there was a real match race about to happen with Hartnell and other overseas horses.
“This year, now that she’s won that second Cox Plate, there’s more pressure there again. She’s going for history, trying to equal Kingston Town’s record.
“We know though she can do it — she can come back and repeat it. There’s a little bit of confidence, but in racing, you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself.”
Waller, a self-confessed sporting enthusiast*, said if he wasn’t feeling nervous himself, there’d be something amiss*.
“It’s Grand Final racing. If you weren’t feeling the nerves and weren’t feeling the hive of activity, you shouldn’t be in the game,” he said.
cram: tightly pack
enthusiast: huge fan
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Activity 1. Mix of emotions
Both the trainer and the jockey have mentioned some of the emotions they have felt in the lead up to this race and races in previous years.
Make a list of all of the emotions you can find in the article.
Next to each one describe the emotion and why they might be feeling them in the lead up to the big race.
Extension: How were you feeling?
If you have participated in an important sporting event, competition or performance, think about the emotions you felt leading up to the event, during the event and after the event.
List them and explain why you think you felt how you did.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Personal and Social Capability
Activity 2. Cox Plate
Research the Cox Plate to answer the following questions in a paragraph.
• What is the Cox Plate?
• Why was it named this?
• When and where is it run?
• Who can participate?
Extension: Weight for Age
The Cox Plate is a Weight for Age race.
What does this mean?
In your own words explain what a Weight for Age race is.
Do you think this is a fair way to race horses?
Time: allow 60 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Ethical Capability
(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)
These sentences appear in the article about Winx, but all the punctuation has been removed.
Can you add the correct punctuation?
Check back with the text afterwards to see if you got it all right.
• he doesnt get nervous he said, but will consider in coming days how he will plot the race
• waller a selfconfessed sporting enthusiast said if he wasnt feeling nervous himself thered be something amiss
• i couldnt be any happier and my jockey Hugh Bowman is in the exact same feeling
Check the meaning of cram and plot in the dictionary. Can you put these two WOW-ish words into a VCOP sentence of your own?
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP
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