Could Winx be set for world title snub again?
AUSTRALIA'S super mare Winx was voted the world's most popular racehorse earlier this week but is she about to be robbed of the sport's ultimate honour?
Winx narrowly missed out on being awarded the Longines World's Best Racehorse title last year and, despite her unrivalled dominance in 2018, it seems she might get pipped on the post again.
But an unlikely ally has come to the champion mare's defence - English racing journalist Nicholas Godfrey.
While many of his colleagues question Winx's record due to a perceived lack of quality opposition, Godfrey maintained the mare's ranking among the all-time great racehorses was secure.
But in Godfrey's article, which appeared on the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary newsletter, he wrote that after the most recent release of the interim world rankings there is a "sense of déjà vu" about the 2018 World's Best Racehorse awards, to be announced in London next month.
"For much of the year, Winx has stood clear atop the world rankings with a mark of 130 from the Queen Elizabeth (Stakes) at Randwick in April, only for Cracksman to join her on the same rating for his emphatic six-length triumph in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot,'' Godfrey said.
"Given that Cracksman achieved that mark once, on favourable testing ground, his exalted status has prompted much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Especially in Australia, where Winx's supremacy is an article of faith.''
Is history about to repeat itself? As Godfrey wrote, Winx was controversially beaten for the "2017 World's Best Racehorse'' title by US champ Arrogate after his spectacular last-to-first win in the Dubai World Cup, earning an official rating of 134.
The fact Arrogate was beaten by an aggregate margin of more than 22 lengths in his three remaining starts, while Winx remained unbeaten last year, did not alter the result.
"Controversy duly reigned as he (Arrogate) took the title of de facto world champion on the base of a one-off performance, thereby relegating Winx to second place on 132,'' Godfrey wrote.
But Godfrey argued that Winx's record "should not be defined or diminished by any ratings barometer''.
"It is just too prosaic,'' he said. "Put simply, Australia's wonder woman is a phenomenon.''
Winx, who became the first Australian winner of the Secretariat Vox Populi Award as the world's most popular racehorse in a global online poll this week, extended her unbeaten sequence to 29 with another "perfect" year in 2018 - seven starts for seven wins, all at Group 1 level, including an unprecedented fourth consecutive Cox Plate.
"The magic mare may never have left her native country but she is a household name, superstar status unquestioned, well beyond the shores of Australia,'' Godfrey said.
"Even those who quibbled about the quality of Winx's opposition, or rued that she had never been tested abroad, were often forced to bring out the big guns to support their argument, with Frankel's name often mentioned.
"Even if Winx never sees another racehorse, she has done more than enough to go down in the annals of the sport as a true legend. Her legacy is assured. As brilliant as he was on his day, can the same really be said about Cracksman?''