APPLAUD, DON’T COMPARE
People ask me, ‘What’s it like to be a part-owner of the best Australian horse ever?’
I feel very privileged to be involved with Winx. I still have to pinch myself. It is such an enormous thrill and that’s the best way I can describe it. A horse this good coming along is just so rare.
But I’m not in the habit of comparing her to the great champions of the past.
None of us have to as owners because everyone else does it anyway. To me, you can only compare the horses that are racing at the time. I’ve followed racing all my life and I feel all of those great horses don’t lose anything because another horse comes along and beats their record.
Those records stand for the time they made them, so you applaud them.
There was no greater thrill than being at Flemington each of the three times Makybe Diva won the Melbourne Cup. It was so exciting because it was history, it had never happened before and probably won’t again.
I applaud that. I don’t compare it.
We can only see Phar Lap on film, but the feeling he generated was from all accounts fantastic. Black Caviar, my gosh. She was just wonderful. Unbeaten her whole career.
So I don’t come out and say, ‘Winx is the greatest ever’. She’s the greatest horse I’ve ever had and that’s enough for me.
I get a lot of joy from watching the general public react to her. I was at the Breakfast with the Best trackwork session at Moonee Valley on Tuesday and everybody wanted to know about the horse.
Little kids dressed ready for school were yelling, ‘Debbie! How is she today?’
They feel a part of it and that’s beautiful. I love it.
How much longer Winx will keep racing isn’t clear. There are no plans for retirement at this stage. The horse will dictate that. She’ll tell us through her body language, or Chris will sense she’s had enough.
If she didn’t win the Cox Plate, that wouldn’t automatically mean the end for her. It would depend how she ran and how she was afterwards. You don’t make snap decisions with an animal like her. Everything is well thought out and Chris’s opinion would obviously count for plenty.
After Saturday, all things being well, she’ll go for a spell and her future will be mapped out at an appropriate time.
We love the fact she’s on this incredible winning streak, but we’ve never felt pressure to not put her in races where we think there’s a chance she’ll lose, just to keep that streak going. If she did lose a race at some point in her career from here, it wouldn’t be like it was the first time.
I once dreamt she had lost a race that she had actually already won. I woke in fright in the middle of the night. It took me a few seconds to realise I was wrong.
Chris is an amazing man and trainer. I’m as proud as punch of what he’s doing with his business. He has this ability to keep his horses going at a high level through long careers and that’s because of the care he takes with them.
We trust him to look after Winx’s best interests. We wouldn’t have her anywhere else.
It’s a family story with this horse. By that, I mean a big family has been created. I’ve seen Chris and Winx’s jockey, Hugh Bowman, form a great friendship on top of their business relationship through their association with Winx.
Hugh is such a gentleman and laidback by nature, but he’s focused on his work. You only have to see the physical training he does away from his actual riding to stay fit and alert. I could never say anything bad about either of those men.
My father, Bob Ingham, feels like a little bit of Winx is his as well. To me, it is that way. I like to ring him straight after Winx races, but it’s hard when it’s a big race like this. You can’t get that quiet time to yourself. But we’ll talk in the days afterwards and go through the race.
He’s over the moon that I’m lucky enough to be associated with her.
Once the Cox Plate is run and won, the spotlight will be on the Melbourne Cup. I know people wonder, ‘How would Winx go if she ran in the cup?’
We’d all love to win one, but to do that you would’ve had to have made a conscious plan of it. And we’ve never headed down that path.
She’s a 2200-to-2400-metre horse, maximum, I feel. She has the heart and the will to win that if you trained her for a Melbourne Cup she would be very competitive and would not give up, but would you be putting her under too much pressure?
Would we really want to go to that length to find out or are we happy to just do what Chris is sure she’s capable of? To me, you go with what Chris believes. You don’t push a horse to do the Melbourne Cup unless they’re a Melbourne Cup-style staying horse.
There are plenty of other big races that suit her. The proof is in her record.
Winx’s wellbeing is our priority concern. I’d dearly love to see her win and make history on Saturday and I’ve got the utmost faith in her ability to do so, but above all I just want to see a safe, competitive race.
After that, what will be will be.