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Winx will need to produce a level of performance comparable with some of the all-time greats of Australian racing if she is to win another Cox Plate on Saturday.
Winx is aiming for her 13th successive win in a race that has been billed as a showdown between the mighty mare and Godolphin's Hartnell.
Both Sydney champs go into the Cox Plate with a peak Timeform rating of 128 which in most years would be enough to win the race.
But if Winx is to maintain her superiority over Hartnell — they have met three times previously with the mare winning each clash — then she may need to break through the 130 barrier, a rating reserved for the truly elite champions.
Think the equivalent of a 9.8-second run in the 100m at the Olympics, or a triple Test ton.
"Winx could go to a new level in the Cox Plate,'' said form guru Gary Crispe, compiler of the official Timeform ratings.
"If Hartnell has improved again, as suggested by his trainer John O'Shea earlier this week, then Winx is going to have to run to at least 128 or better to win.
"She recorded this rating winning the Doncaster Mile earlier this year, a race where they probably did get close to the bottom of her.
"Her three wins this spring have been pretty relaxed although she did go to 126 beating Hartnell first-up in the Warwick Stakes. The signs are there that she has more to give but it is just a matter of whether she is asked to do it.''
If Winx does return a Timeform rating of 130 or higher, it would make her the highest-rated mare outside of the incomparable Black Caviar (136) in Australian racing history.
The legendary Phar Lap is the best Australian galloper of them all according to Timeform with a 141 rating ahead of Tulloch and Bernborough (138) then Kingston Town and Peter Pan (137).
By way of comparison, the highest rated galloper is unbeaten English wonder horse Frankel with a 147 figure.
Winx's current peak rating of 128 is just below the great Sunline who she can emulate on Saturday with back-to-back Cox Plate wins.
"While her master Timeform rating sits at 128, she comes into the Cox Plate with improvement to come off a 126 base earned in her Warwick Stakes win and a 125+ figure last start after defeating Black Heart Bart in the Caulfield Stakes,'' Crispe said.
"While she already sits at a lofty Timeform level of 128, Winx does appear to have returned in rare form and gives every indication that she has more to give.''
Crispe conceded Winx is confronted by strong opposition from a rejuvenated Hartnell and French galloper Vadamos. Hartnell suffered his only defeat this campaign at the hands of Winx when racing first up in the Warwick Stakes.
Since then he has dominated weight for age assignments winning the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m), Hill Stakes (2000m) and Turnbull Stakes (2000m) in effortless fashion, especially the later where he comfortably disposed of Jameka by over three lengths.
"Hartnell's Turnbull Stakes win took on a different look when Jameka defeated the Caulfield Cup field with authority last Saturday,'' Crispe said.
"But then again Winx easily accounted for subsequent Epsom Handicap winner Hauraki in her win in the George Main Stakes before she won the Caulfield Stakes.
"Hartnell went to a new Timeform master rating in the Turnbull running to 128 thereby equalling the master rating of Winx.
"If the Cox Plate was run at level weights Hartnell and Winx would theoretically dead heat but Winx gets a 2kg weight allowance under the weight for age scale which should be sufficient to give the mighty mare an advantage.''
Vadamos, the French raider trained by the legendary Andre Fabre, has a peak Timeform rating of 126, making him the highest-rated international runner to contest the Cox Plate since Grandera (129) ran third to Northerly in 2002.
WEIGHT ADJUSTED TIMEFORM COX PLATE RATINGS
1. Winx 132
2. Hartnell 128
3. Vadamos 126
4. Black Heart Bart 126
5. Lucia Valentina 125
6. Hauraki 125
7. Yankee Rose 124
8. Happy Clapper 121
9. Awesome Rock 121
10. Happy Trails 117
AUSTRALIAN TIMEFORM TOP 10
1. Phar Lap 141
Eq 2. Bernborough 138
Eq 4. Kingston Town 137
Peter Pan 137
Eq 6. Black Caviar 136
Eq 10. Better Loosen Up 135
Tobin Bronze 135
Online article taken from The Mercury.