Almond Eye and Winx. What a contest that would have been! Now the Cox Plate is over for another year it brings back the memories of Winx’s efforts in winning four straight. Her heroics have somewhat overshadowed those of another mare Almond Eye. The careers of these two great mares did indeed overlap; Winx (2013-2019) and Almond Eye (2018 -2020). Unfortunately, they never met in a race.but on paper there was an opportunity. In the year of the 2018 Cox Plate won by Winx and the 2018 Japan Cup won by Almond Eye. It is interesting to review the highlights of their careers.
Almond Eye has a superb pedigree. Her sire, Lord Kanaloa was an outstanding sprinter-miler (13 wins and 6 placings from 19 starts). His most notable achievement was back to back wins in the G1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m). He was Japan’s Horse of the Year in 2013. From the perspective of her dam’s side Almond Eye is probably even more impressive. Her dam,Fusaichi Pandora was the winner of two G1 which included the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Commemoration Cup (2200m). Her dam was Lotta Lace (Buckpasser – Sex Appeal) which puts her in elite company as a member of the Best in Show family along with El Gran Senor, Xaar, Rags to Riches, and Redoute’s Choice among others.
The racing career of Almond Eye began modestly enough with a second followed by a win at her first two starts. In 2018 as a 3yo, the glory days took off. First she completed the Japanese fillies triple crown, only the fifth horse to do so. Her form was so impressive that she was installed as favorite for the Japan Cup of that year. Not only did she win but she ran the 2400m in 2.20.6 which broke the race record by 1.5 seconds and was a world record for the distance. The Australian record is 2.25.2 which has stood for 20 years.
The following year 2019, Almond Eye had her first start in the Middle East where she won The Dubai World Championship. She was expected to travel on to France for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe but injury prevented her making the trip. She resumed racing in the autumn of 2020 and victories continued. When she claimed her 8th G1 win she became the first horse to win 8 G1 races in Japan. The stage was set for her attempt to win her second Japan Cup. Kiseki set up a huge lead at the head of a strong International field, but Almond Eye was able to run him down in what was her final race. She awarded to title of World Champion Horse for 2020.
The strength of Winx’s pedigree is through her sire Street Cry. An excellent racehorse, a dual G1 winner, and in twelve starts never unplaced.. But as a sire of champions he really excelled. In addition to Winx, Street Cry is the sire of Zenyatta. This mare had 19 straight victories and just failed in her last race when she finished second trying for a second victory in the Breeders Cup Classic. Winx’s female line is not strong with a 6GFI through her dam Vegas Showgirl of only 1.47%. In contrast, Almond Eye has a female line of 9.88%. it will be interesting to see how good the progeny of these mares will turn out to be.
Like Almond Eye, Winx had a racing career which began low key being successful as a 2yo but winning only one race in her next seven starts. However, a win in the G1 Queensland Oaks coming from way back in the field made racegoers take notice. Resuming her race career as a 4yo she amassed 33 straight victories. Among them four Cox Plates and both the prestigious mile handicaps in Sydney (Epsom and Doncaster). Winx was invincible in Australia and was anointed Australian Horses of the year four years in succession 2015-2018.
Too bad Almond Eye and Winx never met on the race track. The clash of these two great mares would have been an event worth going miles to see.