'Wonder' Winx throws down the gauntlet to Arrogate

J A McGrath

Quite possibly, there has never been a brighter start to an international racing year, and Saturday's G1 Dubai World Cup could set up the most fascinating season in both hemispheres.
Winx, the Australian five-year-old, described as a 'wonder' of modern-day racing, annihilated her rivals in last Saturday's G1 George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill, Sydney, winning by seven and a quarter lengths in heavy ground.
It was the mare's 16th consecutive win -- and, arguably, one of her finest. She made proven G1 horses look second-rate, at the 'odd' distance of 1,500m (seven and a half furlongs), which these days is a little outside her comfort zone.
She will be far better suited at the 2,000m trip of the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, on her next assignment, at Randwick, on April 8.
But how have her three wins this year affected her global ranking?
At the end of last year, Arrogate was crowned Longines World's Best Racehorse 2016, and on the ratings compiled by an eminent international group of handicappers, he was assessed to be 3lb better than Winx.
Then Arrogate made a perfect start to his 2017 campaign by galloping away with the money-laden Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in January. But has he progressed as much as Winx in the past four months? It is a fair question.
The Dubai World Cup at Meydan should go a long way to telling us. Already, the handicappers are saying it is too early to make such a judgement.
But it is accurate to point out Winx has become a colossus in the Southern Hemisphere. She is still on the improve; there is more to come from the daughter of Street Cry. She is breathing down Arrogate's neck, if not upsides him in terms of achievement.
Winx enjoys Black Caviar adulation, while boasting Makybe Diva prowess at distances up to 2,000m (a mile and a quarter).
There were five G1 races in Sydney at the weekend, and the wins of Gingernuts in the Rosehill Guineas and She Will Reign in the Golden Slipper are both worth noting for the future.
Gingernuts, a son of the Darley stallion Iffraaj, looked Derby material when he made easy work of winning a race that has been an important pointer to Classics in the past.
Finally, in the Far East, John Moore saddled his sixth winner of the G1 Hong Kong Derby when Rapper Dragon, ridden by Joao Moreira, safely held off strong-finishing Pakistan Star.
Rapper Dragon, a son of Street Sense, was completing the local Triple Crown, erasing doubts about his ability to run a strong 2,000m.