Twice already this campaign, Winx has pulled off extraordinary finishes to preserve her astonishing winning streak.
First-up in the Warwick Stakes, she missed the start badly and was forced to chase a long way from home. Stablemate Foxplay looked one stage destined to withstand her finish, but she nabbed her in the shadows of the post to win.
Two weeks later in the Chelmsford Stakes, it was a daring front-running ride by Josh Parr on Red Excitement that almost brought the streak unstuck again. Winx had jumped well to settle closer to the pace, but when Parr continued to increase the lead on Red Excitement, there was a genuine concern that the champion mare wouldn’t catch them.
At the 300m mark, she spotted Red Excitement five lengths, but bit by bit, she wore down the margin and claimed the frontrunner with about 20m to go.
It got us thinking about racing’s great escapes. We’ve listed seven but are convinced there are countless others which fit the category.
“The champion is in desperate trouble” – Lonhro – 2004 Australian Cup
Lonhro’s brilliant career included 26 wins from 35 starts and he went into the 2004 Australian Cup as an even money favourite having won seven of his past eight starts. Rounding the home turn, jockey Darren Beadman looked perfectly placed, stalking the speed, but things changed quickly at the 300m mark as first Sound Action put Lonhro back in a pocket and then Delzao swept to the lead. The champ had to pick up his legs quickly, 150m out from home, but he set out after Delzao and got him right on the line.
“Kingston Town can’t win” – Kingston Town – 1982 Cox Plate
Bill Collins’ call of the race is almost as famous as the historic win from Kingston Town himself. Looking for an unprecedented third Cox Plate win, Kingston Town was under the whip coming to home turn and was surrounded by a wall of horses. Collins, renowned as ‘The Accurate One’ quickly added ‘Kingston Town can’t win’ and there probably wasn’t a punter in Australia who would have disagreed with him. But as soon as they got to the outside of Grosvenor, Kingston Town and Peter Cook surged to the line creating a unique piece of Australian racing history.
“He eases up near the line!” – Black Caviar – 2012 Diamond Jubilee Stakes
When unbeaten superstar Black Caviar travelled to England to take on the world’s best at Royal Ascot in 2012, it was the sort of global racing event Australians hadn’t really experienced since Phar Lap. The hype was enormous, as was the pressure on jockey Luke Nolen and trainer Peter Moody. While Moody had his reservations about his mare performing at her best, things look pretty comfortable at the furlong pole when she surged a length and half clear of her rivals. But trying to protect her late in the race, Nolen eased her down towards the line and she switched off. The French mare Moonlight Cloud surged at her and racing fans around the world held their breath. Black Caviar had won….just... and the streak rolled on.
“The rider almost went over her head” – Belle Du Jour – 2000 Golden Slipper
When the field jumped in the world’s richest two-year-old race in 2000, jockey Len Beasley was lucky to stay in the saddle. The filly lurched skywards and Beasley held on for dear life. Having blundered the start by three to four lengths it appeared that Belle Du Jour would be going around for practice only. Even in the straight, Beasley was weaving left and right looking for a run but was still a mile off the leader King of Danes at the 250m. But the filly unleashed a freakish finish to get the bob on the line over Crowned Glory.
“It’s been nice and rough, God’s Own got flattened again” – God’s Own – 2005 Caulfield Guineas
God’s Own never won another race after the 2005 Caulfield Guineas, but his victory on that day is remembered as one of the most remarkable in the race’s history. It all looked to be going very wrong for Glen Boss at the top of the straight when he was sandwiched between Red Dazzler and Stratum. When the horse had regained his stride, Boss and God’s Own were five lengths from Paratroopers, who had surged clear. Even at the 200m mark, it looked a forlorn task, but Bart Cummings' star colt unleashed late to nail Paratroopers..
“He’s trying to lift on the outside but he’s feeling the weight” – Gotta Take Care – 2014 Australian Hurdle
Gotta Take Care was a remarkable hurdler who won 20 races in his career. By far the most extraordinary was in the Australian Hurdle at Sandown in May 2014. Starting a $2.25 favourite, the nine-year-old was left flat-footed when the speed went on in the final 600m of the 3400m race. Fieldmaster surged clear of the field and had as much as eight lengths on Gotta Take Care, and even as they cleared the final jump, the margin was five lengths, with the champ seemingly labouring. But he dug deep and stormed home late to overwhelm Fieldmaster late on.
“He’s running off the track, he’s got issues and that is the end of that,” – See the World – Wincanton bumper – January 2015
Slightly off-broadway, but this one had to be seen to be believed. See The World ridden by Aidan Coleman, jumped at $8 but when he locked his jaw and took a left hand turn with 600m to go, Coleman looked to pull him up. At that stage, his odds of victory drifted to $999 on Betfair and given how far he was from the leader Lincoln County, when he eventually decided to run again, you would have thought that was unders. The video tells the story, but in the end, not only did he reel in the winner, he won by 4.5 lengths!