STREAK INTACT: Hugh Bowman rides Winx to victory in the Chelmsford Stakes for her 19th straight win.
STREAK INTACT: Hugh Bowman rides Winx to victory in the Chelmsford Stakes for her 19th straight win. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

Is Winx losing her aura?

FOR THE first time in almost three years, there's an elephant in the room.

Everyone is still clapping and that picket fence is still intact but eyebrows are being raised.

Who knows, trainers who had once declared Winx to be avoided at all cost may now be feeling a surge of competitive juices.

As heroic as her two escapist recent wins have been, this is not the Winx of old.

The romantics will gasp how she turned defeat into victory, that only champions can do such things, which is true, and the stats people will tell you she is smashing the clock.

But the effortless dominance isn't there.

Winx is the greatest ever (in my humble opinion) and a champion over most distances and on any surface, but she is simply not as dominant on these firm tracks.

Her rapid-repeat action is that of the ultimate wet tracker and it's not as fluid on dry tracks. It took her half an hour to gather in Red Excitement and - despite the clock, which was being smashed in almost every other race that day as well - she took all day to beat Foxplay first-up as well.

The "four length" stuff-up in the barriers was exaggerated in justifying the might of the win.

Bowman was feeling for her at the 500m on Saturday and she responded almost with a groan.

None of this diminishes her legend or means she will get beaten before or in the Cox Plate.

No up-and-comer is thrusting its hand in the air as a giant killer.

But the ageing mare is now being heroic rather than dominant. And that means she is giving them a chance.

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