IT'S A BATL

Wednesday 24, 2018 2:00 PM By Best Bets

Does Winx face her greatest Cox Plate challenge this Saturday?

The easy answer, with the benefit of hindsight, is yes. We’ve already seen her first three Cox Plates and, apart from the 100 metres or so last year when it looked like Humidor might catch her, she hasn’t been challenged at all.

This race looms as her greatest challenge for no other reason than it hasn’t happened yet.

We’ve experienced this uncertainty before, however.

In 2015 Winx was a relatively unknown quantity and started at $4.60 in a 14-horse field. From memory I tipped Highland Reel to beat her, which looked idiotic immediately after the race but not quite so silly after Highland Reel won a Breeders’ Cup Turf, two Hong Kong Vases, a King George, a Prince of Wales’s Stakes and a Coronation Cup.

In 2016 there was the “match race” with Hartnell.

In the lead-up one professional punter and ratings king told the Daily Telegraph: “I’d have them more like $2.30 Winx and $2.40 Hartnell.”

He then blathered on about Hartnell hitting a new ratings peak while Winx was building slowly, at which point my eyes glazed over.

Last year’s Cox Plate (of eight runners, like this year’s) was the only one seen as a fait accompli, and yet that was the year Winx was challenged.

This Saturday she faces Humidor in similar form as well as Benbatl, who beat Humidor by 2.35 lengths at Caulfield.

Benbatl, a Group 1 winner in Germany and winner of the $7.6 million Dubai Turf, appears the best credentialled northern-hemisphere horse to tackle Winx.

Helpfully, British commentator Matt Chapman assures us he’s nowhere near Cracksman or Enable, so Winx will need to beat him by 20 lengths if she’s the world’s best.

Talk about a hiding to nothing.