STARTING OVER

Wednesday 23, 2019 2:00 PM By Best Bets

Punters find themselves in an unfamiliar position this weekend. After four stress-free years we need to work out who’s going to win the Cox Plate.

That might be a slight exaggeration. While Winx started favourite in the 2015 Cox Plate, she was backable at $4.60.

I’m told there were mugs out there who picked Highland Reel to beat her. Cough.

Winx went into the 2015 race with a record of 14: 8-3-0 and earnings of just under $1.8 million. For comparison, Mystic Journey (also a four-year-old mare) goes into this Saturday’s race with a record of 16: 11-1-0 and earnings of just over $3.5 million.

Winx started at $1.80, $1.18 and $1.24 in her three subsequent Cox Plate wins. But in 2016 there were plenty who wanted to tell you Hartnell was going to beat her.

“I’d have them more like $2.30 Winx and $2.40 Hartnell,” said one ratings guru in the run-up to the race. “At the start of this season Winx stood alone as the clear best horse in Australia. However, then along came Hartnell.”

The guru pointed out that Hartnell’s rating from his Turnbull Stakes romp was 2½ lengths superior to Winx’s from the Caulfield Stakes.

So, yeah. Winx beat him by eight lengths.

Notably it was in the year nobody could see Winx getting beaten, 2017, that her neck was stretched for the first and only time at The Valley — by a horse relegated to first emergency this Saturday.

For those with short memories, I should point out that in the nine years prior to Winx’s arrival only one favourite won the Cox Plate — So You Think, second time around.

Five of the other eight were in double figures, including Fields of Omagh ($19), Pinker Pinker ($26) and Shamus Award ($21).