Winx vs Hartnell: the mega preview

It's the most anticipated clash in racing. We've got a range of expert opinions from around the industry to help you pick the winner.

Spring racing tips Cox Plate

Nathan Snow: Champion Bets NSW Racing Analyst

I can’t remember a better build up for a big race, with what looks to be a genuine match race.

Winx, the proven champ who has done nothing wrong this prep, and Hartnell who seems to have found a new lease on life in his last 3 starts.

I’m still in the Winx camp. She was dominant over Hartnell 1st up, and has done what’s required of it since and looks ready to peak here. Granted Hartnell has improved, but I believe she is capable of going to another level again if required. She has an amazing will to win and ability to overcome difficulty as proven last prep, combined with acceleration that truly sets her apart.

She’s still entitled to be odds on for mine.


Trevor Lawson: Champion Bets Victorian Racing Analyst

I’ve basically got them both about $2.75 and then $15 the next pick.

I’ve actually got Hartnell going half a length better at this stage, but the weights bring them back together.  They’re both half untapped too of course.

It’ll just be a great race to watch.  If Hartnell was $3.50 I’d probably have something on him, but at the current prices I’m thinking there’s easier races to bet in!

I haven’t got the full form for Vadamos just yet, but he’d want to be bloody good to get near them.  The overseas horses that have won here, like Adelaide, have won beating legless horses.

But these are our two best horses on our dung hill.

If I had to bet it’d be Hartnell, only because of the odds.


Robbie Waterhouse: Bookmaker

Just watching the horses I thought that Hartnell had a real chance, but actually taking out the figures, Winx has domination on him and has easily beaten him each time they’ve met.  So I’m a Winx person.  I’ll be laying Hartnell and the others.


Vince Accardi: Daily Sectionals

I’m all about where they are in their performances.  A couple of things on Winx:

When she won last year’s Cox Plate she was 16.3 lengths above the IVR standard.  That’s her best ever.  But if I look at figures outside of that race, last preparation her best performances was 10.2 lengths above the benchmark, and that’s probably the real score that I need to work with.

This campaign, in all her races she hasn’t been asked to do a lot early, therefore it’s been impossible to produce a giant figure.  But she still has achieved virtually six lengths above the benchmark.

So the way I’m reading it is on the horse’s 400 metre sprint, and she’s actually come back (this preparation) better than ever.  I actually think she’s improved a length from last preparation, and possibly a touch more.  All the indicators are that this horse it set to eclipse what she did last preparation (10.2 lengths above benchmark).

So I’m expecting her to run eleven to twelve lengths above the IVR benchmark, but I’m not expecting her to go to 16 lengths above like the last Cox Plate.

Looking at Hartnell’s profile, his best ever performance in Australia was all the way back in March 2015 at Rosehill when I marked him 9.1 lengths above the benchmark.

There’s not much to go on from his last preparation as it only one start, but if we have a look at the prep before that, you can get some insight and he’s about eight lengths above the benchmark – so around a length off his first campaign in Australia.

This preparation there’s a lot of talk about how much the horse has improved, but I don’t believe he has.  Last start was 8.1 lengths above the benchmark, which was best for the preparation, and it was absolutely a strong performance.  It was outstanding.  But it’s still not better than its best, and looking at all the data it’s showing all the same characteristics that it has in the past.

I can’t say it’s a brand new horse.  He’s simply trending every bit as good as he ever has in Australia, back in his first prep.  So in line with that, I expect he’ll be about nine lengths ahead of the benchmark.  At the absolute maximum, all things going completely right, maybe ten lengths ahead.

So therefore, at his absolute best, he can almost match motors with Winx.  So they’ll be looking for Hugh Bowman to make a mistake or two which could cost a couple of lengths and bridge the gap and make it a real contest.

Overall I feel that Winx has still got a dominant two lengths on him, and if I take last year’s Cox Plate into consideration it’s six lengths superior.  But I call that one out of the box and I’m not expecting her to emulate that.

Bowman’s a top rider but I think last weekend he made a couple of errors, in particular on Preferment which I think were judgment errors.  But the topline jockeys rebound from one ride to another.

Yankee Rose is a very interesting runner, a very progressive horse, and demonstrated some outstanding quality last start.  I think it was outside the fast lane last start which inhibited her performance in the last couple of hundred metres by a couple of lengths.  Add them on and it starts to bridge the gap, but making up the six lengths required to the other two is a big, big ask – even with the drop in weight.

Yankee Rose shouldn’t be taken lightly and its sprinting capacity is actually every bit as good as the other two, but it doesn’t have the sustained speed that the other two have.  That’s just because it’s a younger horse.  If it was a 400 metre sprint it would be right there with the others, but with the Cox Plate you have to dash for 1000 metres.


David Dwyer: Bookmaker

At the odds I’d be happy to go with Hartnell. Winx is a champion but I don’t think there’s that much between them so I’d be happy to take the odds on Hartnell rather than the even money on Winx.

But as I said, she’s obviously a champion and like all the other champions we may well get bitten on the ass by it!

I think Winx is entitled to be favoruite but I also think Hartnell is going so much better than he’s ever gone before and he couldn’t have been more impressive last start.  Winx also looks to be going very well but she hasn’t been pushed out and hasn’t beaten a hell of a lot, and coming off a three-horse race Hartnell would have to be more battle-hardened than she is.

Tactics and what the others want to do will play a big role.


Ciaron Maher: Caulfield Cup winning trainer

I thought Jameka was going really well heading into the Turnbull, but Hartnell just absolutely toyed with her, so I was all over him.

But then I saw what Winx did to Black Heart Bart last week and I’ve probably swung back toward her.

So a bit of a foot in both camps… if I had to say I’d go with Winx.


Luke Murrell: Australian Bloodstock

I couldn’t believe the barrier draw.  I thought there were some incredibly unusual choices: Yankee Rose in barrier one, I don’t know what they’re going to do there.  Unless they’re just going to lead, but I thought they’d made it clear they weren’t going to do that.  And there might be a bit of rain beforehand, and if we get that the rail will be off anyway.

And Winx in gate three?  I’m thinking if you’ve got the best horse in the race, surely you go gate five or six and just make sure you don’t get cluttered up at any stage.  I just don’t understand why you want to be on the inside of them.

On Vadamos, people look at the French form and think he’s got a great record – and he does – but French racing is all about who’s got the best turn of foot over 200 or 400 metres.  It’s very rare that you’ll see a truly-run race.  You see horses who are first-up after twelve months over 3000 metres, and they win because they only have to run 400 metres.

Hartnell obviously has the sexy form on paper but he’s proven over and over throughout his career that he can’t sustain a 800 or 1000 metre run.  I think he’s massively under the odds.  Even though he has improved, every race that he’s been in has been a jog and then the best of turn-of-foot over 400 metres.  Unless we see a Cox Plate like we haven’t seen before, he’s not going to get that.

Regardless of if they go slow early, they’re still going to take off at the 1000 metre mark and he’s proven he can’t do that.  Winx can and I think Hartnell is making an amazing market for her just by being there.