Champion jockey James McDonald says he isn't worried about Winx heading into the A$4 million Queen Elizabeth with He's Eminent at Randwick today.

Then he pauses. He looks across to his left and then he laughs.

McDonald was driving to the Gosford races on Wednesday at the time and Winx's jockey and partner-in-perfection Hugh Bowman is sitting alongside McDonald.

McDonald is trying to get a rise out of his close mate. Bowman, as usual, is unfazed.


Of course McDonald wants to beat his old mate today, especially as former European galloper He's Eminent is owned by McDonald's even older mate Sir Peter Vela.

Now trained by Sir Mark Todd, He's Eminent has a lot of human firepower on his side but at the top of the Randwick rise around 5.10pm (NZ time) today he might need more than that.

McDonald expects to be in front mid-race and he expects Bowman to be back near last. And pretty much everybody expects the wonder mare to unleash that trademark finishing burst that will turn Randwick into a farewell pop concert with Winx playing the equine Beyonce.

McDonald knows how that burst feels. He is one of the few other jockeys to have ridden Winx to win, nearly three and a half years ago.

"It was cool to ride her, especially now looking back, but she wasn't Winx then like she is now," he reflects.

"I knew she was a very good horse but she has gone way past that level now and become something else.

"So even though she is the best horse I have ridden, when people ask me who is the best horse I have ridden I automatically think Dundeel, who won this race too.

"Because riding Winx was a real privilege but it was only a one-off and she isn't my horse, she is Hughie's."

Jockey James McDonald. Photo / Bradley Photography
Jockey James McDonald. Photo / Bradley Photography

McDonald knows being lengths in front of Winx today is at least better than being behind her but he has seen enough to know anything close to the glamour girl's best should send her into retirement a winner and He's Eminent scrapping for the not-inconsiderable crumbs from her table.

"You never know in racing but really, if she turns up like she usually does she should win. But my horse is really well and it looks like we might lead. But I can't ride to try and beat her. I have plenty of other good horses like Hartnell and Happy Clapper to worry about too.

"So it should be a great race and a special occasion."

As much as today will almost certainly be about Winx, who has another Kiwi challenger in the brave and brilliant Danzdanzdance, McDonald will have a different Kiwi girl on his mind.

He rides hot favourite Verry Elleegant in the A$1 million Australian Oaks and while she has been winning like a mini-Winx the pair could hardly be more different.

Verry Elleegant is still part-owned in New Zealand after starting her career here unheralded last winter before being sold for big money.

First trained by Darren Weir and now the all-conquering Chris Waller, Verry Elleegant wins in spite of herself, racing with her head up like Northerly and stargazing in the home straights.

Winx doesn't waste any energy, Verry Elleegant wastes most of hers.

"She isn't an easy ride for sure, it is actually quite hard to get used to," says McDonald. "The racing with her head up is a bit tricky but it doesn't actually feel as bad from where I am sitting as it looks on video. But the way she runs around in the straight, that is a bit of a pain. But she gets away with it because she is so good."

McDonald isn't sure Verry Elleegant is a natural 2400m horse even though she is bred to stay and has slayed most of her opponents today over 2000m in a style that suggests she will add the Oaks.

"She is bred to get 3200m but she is so brilliant I think she could win a good 1200-1400m race.

"But she should get away with it in the Oaks because she might just be better than them and away from the top three or four the class of the race falls away a bit.

"So I am going in pretty confident," he says.

McDonald also suggests sharp sprint colt Zousain can return to his best in the A$1 million Arrowfield Sprint, where he meets outstanding Matamata filly Avantage.

Kiwis can fly

The New Zealand team for Winx's farewell day at Randwick.

R5, 3.50pm (NZtime) A$1 million Arrowfield Sprint: Avantage.

R6, 4.25pm A$1 million Australian Oaks: Clementina, Verry Elleegant.

R7: 5.05pm A$4 million Queen Elizabeth: Danzdanzdance, He's Eminent.

R8: 5.50pm A$2 million Sydney Cup: Sir Charles Road, Glory Days, Zacada, Rondinella.

R9: 6.30pm A$1 million Coolmore Legacy Stakes: Consensus.