Successful English owner in awe of wonder mare Winx
HARRY Herbert, one of the most successful owners in English racing, might have a leading chance in the Sydney Cup but he can't wait to see Winx at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
"I am a massive fan of Winx,'' Herbert told The Daily Telegraph.
"In the northern hemisphere, I get up early to watch her races. I never miss her and I know many people back home watch her every start.
"When Winx runs on Saturday, this is the stuff that lights up the sport. She gets everybody interested.''
Winx can equal Black Caviar's record of 25 consecutive wins when she tackles the Group 1 $4 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).
She is at $1.15 with TAB Fixed Odds to extend an extraordinary winning streak that has made her famous all over the thoroughbred world.
"I can tell you there is a lot of disappointed people back home now that it has been announced Winx is not coming to the UK,'' Herbert said.
"Everyone wants to see a true champion and that is what she is. I've got no doubt if the real Winx had turned up on the day in England I don't think anyone could beat her.
"But if I had to make the same decision as Winx's owners about going overseas I would be really struggling with it, too.
"It is a big ask and the prizemoney she is running for here in Australia is so significant, she is the belle of the ball.''
Herbert has become a regular visitor to major Australian racing carnivals and yearlings sales in recent years.
His grandfather was the fifth Earl of Carnarvon and uncovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, and his father, Lord Henry Carnarvon, was a close confidant of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. And the family home, Highclere Castle, was the location for the hit TV series Downton Abbey.
He has raced a number of horses with success Down Under, including top stayer Libran, who contests the Group 1 $2 million Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m).
Libran began his race career in England before Herbert, under his Highclere Thoroughbreds banner, sent the gelding to Sydney to Winx's trainer, Chris Waller. The gelding has since won nine races and more than $1.2 million prizemoney.
Herbert said the considerable prizemoney that could be won in Sydney in particular was the reason he was looking to invest more heavily in Australian racing.
"There is a lot of interest from my clients in the UK to have a dabble here,'' Herbert said.
"Racing is absolutely huge in this country and we are trying to expand the Highclere brand in Australia.
"The Championships in Sydney and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes has become an international event now. The prizemoney is so vast we would love to have a go with the right horse.
"The Everest is another race that is certainly on our radar now. Back home, we have been very scared of the Australian sprinters like Black Caviar. But we have some decent sprinters in the UK at the moment and some of those may come down here for The Everest.''
Herbert will be cheering for Winx on Saturday but he also could be lifting the Sydney Cup trophy aloft.
"The weather is absolutely fantastic and a good track is ideal for Libran. He is not at his best on soft and heavy tracks,'' Herbert said. "He had to miss the Tancred Stakes, which was annoying as we thought he had a great chance in the race.
"But he just went off his feed and had a slight temperature so Chris obviously had to scratch him. Libran has bounced back very quickly so I don't think missing that run is an issue. I know Chris and the team are very happy with him.''