The huge crowd at Caulfield on Saturday - mostly there for one reason - had nothing but affection for Winx.

And she didn't appreciate it.

"She's not a horse who seeks human contact," says trainer Chris Waller. "She doesn't even like to be patted. People pat her of course, but she doesn't really appreciate it.

"She is there just for business."

Advertisement

And no one does business like Winx. Her demolition of the classy Black Heart Bart in Saturday's A$600,000 Caulfield Stakes, to make it 12 straight, was just what everyone expected ($1.20), but its completion set up the mouth-watering clash between the magical Sydney mare and Shiekh Mohammed's Hartnell in the A$3.5 million Cox Plate on Saturday week.

Every Australasian racing fan marvels to this day over the home-straight clash of the two Kiwis, Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star in their Cox Plate.

Thirty years on two weeks from now the magical raceday on the unique Moonee Valley circuit will be every bit as intense.

Yes, Moonee Valley can be a stunning cauldron for such a clash, but it's still a shame the race will not be run at Flemington. Forty thousand bursts Moonee Valley at the seams - Flemington can handle 100,000.

There is a popular line in sport that there was standing room only.

There won't even be that at Moonee Valley. If you're going, get there early.

A champion like Winx inspires everyone. Rival trainer David Hayes offered up the ultimate compliment on Saturday: "I have got two horses that in a normal year ... you would have a crack at the Cox Plate [with], but this might be the year to just watch it."

Interestingly, the person who will get the closest to Winx as the field swings into the home straight in the Cox Plate - Hartnell's rider James McDonald - did not witness Winx's win. He had to ride 54.5kg two races later and was in the sauna behind the jockeys' room as Winx did the business yet again.

"I didn't need to watch it, believe me I know what she can do," said McDonald later.

Don't go back too far when you do the form for the Winx-Hartnell clash. Yes, it's 3-0 to Winx, including a 10-length drubbing of Hartnell in last year's Cox Plate.

But the Hartnell you saw that day bears no resemblance to the Hartnell that left Sydney in sublime winning form a few weeks ago and did a Winx on the opposition in the Turnbull Stakes last Saturday week. The Cox Plate odds are Winx $1.90, Hartnell $3.

If both horses arrive in pristine condition, this is a clash you simply cannot afford to miss.

The unflappable Chris Waller is in a wonderful position to train such a superstar, but don't imagine that comes unhindered. Waller is only too aware of the weight of public expectation of preparing a champion that has won 12 straight. Waller trains Winx, the public own her.

"Every win comes as a relief rather than an absolute thrill."

Times 10 that for Saturday week.