Amid the drama that seems ever present in racing, a host of new stars on and off the track emerged in 2018, while some renowned and revered campaigners further cemented their places in racing history.
So what does 2019 hold on and off the track for Australian racing? Here are our five predictions for the sport of kings.
WINX STREAK TO END
What’s bolder, predicting Winx to remain unbeaten or for her winning streak to end?
The wonder mare has won 29 on the bounce and is being prepared for another Autumn tilt before presumably taking off into the sunset, via an annual visit to the breeding barn. But she’s not getting any younger and with nothing left to prove, she is potentially vulnerable on her farewell tour.
So when will she be toppled and by whom?
🏇 ICYMI – 🏇
Winx wins the 2018 @CoxPlate, landing the race for the fourth time at Mooney Valley Racecourse!
The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Benbatl finished second.
— Timeform Live (@TimeformLive) October 27, 2018
NEW QUEEN CROWNED
If any horse is to topple Winx it is only fair that it is a fast female who has the capacity to own the mantle of Queen Of The Turf for years to come.
The standout candidate without question is Arcadia Queen. We’re tipping 2019 to be her year, with a trip across the Nullabor in pursuit of Autumn and Spring riches a near certainty.
Ratings experts assessed her Kingston Town Classic victory as the best run of the past few years, save for a couple produced by Winx and Humidor. She’s the only one that’s been nearly as good as Winx, and she’s the one to assume the throne. Expect them to clash in either the All Star Mile or Queen Elizabeth.
Kingston Town Classic (Gr.1)
1) Arcadia Queen (AUS)
(3f, Pierro- Arcadia, by Redoutes Choice)
2) Material Man (AUS)
3) Galaxy Star (AUS) pic.twitter.com/DfUm08cH3w
— MG (@WorldRacing_) December 8, 2018
HUSTLER THE JUVENILE STAR
It has been over five years since trainer Jason Warren tasted Group 1 glory with Bel Sprinter – but he may be on the cusp of securing his first two-year-old major.
Warren unveiled filly Brooklyn Hustle at Moonee Valley in December and she produced one of the more remarkable performances of 2019, coming from last on the fence at the 350m to win by two lengths running away.
She’s the early Blue Diamond favourite at $4.50 and is $17.00 for the Golden Slipper, and looks a great chance in both should she make it there.
A real wow-factor win!!
Brooklyn Hustle storms through from near last! pic.twitter.com/3U7nV3jN5y
— Racing.com (@Racing) December 1, 2018
ANOTHER BIG CARROT
The turf wars between NSW and Victoria have resulted in both states announcing new, innovative races for 2019. But why stop there?
The All Star Mile is the Victorian response to the success of The Everest, but Racing NSW has fired back announcing the Golden Eagle, Golden Gift and Bondi Stakes for their inaugural runnings this year.
Where will it end? We don’t know. But with racing’s biggest states gripped by an obsession to ‘one-up’ each, expect more out of the box ideas to surface this year.
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN RESURGENCE
Racing in South Australia is on its knees, with huge POC taxes now being backed up with massive funding cuts to the industry, affecting everything from infrastructure to prize money.
But we’re banking on racing’s resurgence in The Festival State. A state steeped in racing history, it is hard to imagine trainers from around the country abandoning the state’s feature races. Expect huge turnouts for the Goodwood, Sangster, Derby and Oaks, with that support to trickle down through the industry within SA.