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With tears in her eyes, Winx part-owner Debbie Kepitis feared it could be the day the record winning streak of the world’s best racehorse ended.
So when Winx finally overpowered her challengers in the final 100 metres of the famous Flemington straight, she was crying hard, overcome with both excitement and absolute relief.
“For some reason I had a different feeling today and that worries me,” Kepitis said after Winx’s unprecedented 28th consecutive win.
“I’m glad she’s safe and that’s the main part.”
It wasn’t a premonition as such, more of a feeling that it wasn’t just a normal race day.
During those few breathtaking moments when owners of other racehorses jumped high with pure joy at the thought of achieving the near-impossible by beating Winx, jockey Hugh Bowman wasn’t worried.
Did he think this would be the day she lost?
“No, I never really think that,” he said, although he conceded the race did not go quite to plan.
“My concentration levels were high and I could just imagine the tension of the crowd.
“But I knew that I had another gear left.”
Winx’s usually emotional trainer Chris Waller kept his emotions in check after the wonder mare’s back-to-back victory in the $500,000 Turnbull Stakes on Saturday – her 21st Group One win.
“You get a few flutters but once she had a clear run in, well what will be will be,” Waller said.
“There will be a day when she’s not as dominant but today all she had to do was repeat her form and she did that.”
Amid the hype around another Winx victory, the TAB took its biggest ever bet on the champion as a punter splashed out $170,000 to take home a $27,200 profit.
Bought by Kepitis, Peter Tighe and Richard Treweeke for $230,000 in 2013, Winx has now amassed $19.88 million in prize money.
The owners, trainer and jockey all appreciate just how much of a crowd favourite she has become.
“It’s more for them than us now,” Tighe said.
“We want her to win but obviously the crowd is behind her.
“We used to be those people who came and watched Black Caviar and watched Makybe Diva, so we know how it feels to come and watch a champion and get the atmosphere.
“It’s just something that we never expected to be involved in.”
Winx’s next goal is an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate on October 27.
It doesn’t get any easier, Kepitis said.
“It’s not easy to do this, to bring her back all the time and have her racing at this level.
“It’s just phenomenal.”