Leading Australian jockey Hugh Bowman has heaped praise on Kiwi horse trainer Chris Waller, claiming Aussie wonder mare Winx wouldn't be the horse she is without Waller’s influence.
Bowman was on board the seven-year-old, as she rode into the history books at Moonee Valley on Saturday, becoming the first horse to win Australia’s premier weight-for-age race - the Cox Plate - for a fourth consecutive year.
Victory extended her winning streak to 29 races, while career earnings for the top-ranked horse in the world now stand at nearly AU$22.9m.
Speaking with Andrew Gourdie and James McOnie on RadioLIVE Sunday Sport, Bowman put Winx’s remarkable achievement down to Foxton-born Waller, whose training operation is based in Sydney.
"To be able to sustain the level of competition that she has for so long, I think is a huge credit to Chris Waller," Bowman said. "In fact, I think he deserves all the credit.
"I've been an important part of the puzzle, sure, and I'm grateful and I understand that. But I think it's Chris' management of her that’s given her the chance to race for so long at the level she does."
Asked if he thought Winx would be the horse she is without Chris Waller, Bowman said: "No, I don't, I really don't."
Bowman and Waller have formed a close bond through the success of Winx. The premier jockey says he has never experienced anything like the pressure he felt in the build-up to Saturday's race, which saw Winx go past Kingston Town's record of three consecutive Cox Plate victories from 1980-82.
"The expectation of her is unrealistic, but what she's done is unrealistic," Bowman said.
"I'm not one to get nervous, but I was really feeling the tension, and when there’s a crowd of nearly 40 thousand people and they'll all there to watch one horse, and you're on it, it's a position I've learned to understand.
"It's a great feeling, but the thought of things not going to plan or not going to script, it's not a feeling I want to come across."
"Chris and I feel a huge responsibility for the owners, and the owners feel it too, but it's Chris and I who're at the coalface."
While no decisions have been made on the mare's racing future, Bowman's indicated fans haven't seen the last of Winx.
"If she was showing any signs of having enough, she wouldn't even been there [on Saturday]," Bowman said.
"She'll obviously go to the spelling paddock now, and my understanding is she'll start the process towards Christmas time for another preparation and if all's going well, she will race in the autumn."