By Laura-Lee Traynor
A retired Perth jockey who won more than 1,000 horse races in his 30-year career has one word to say about the upcoming Melbourne Cup – Winx.
Dennis Gundry says the six-year-old West Australian thoroughbred will be almost impossible to beat in Australia’s biggest horse race on November 7.
“Winx is an amazing animal. It’s the best horse I’ve ever seen race,” Mr Gundry, 53, said.
The race that stops a nation, held at Flemington Race Course as part of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, is one Mr Gundry’s favourite days of the year.
“It’s tradition, it was first run in the late 1800’s, it’s one of the oldest races in Australia,” Mr Gundry says.
Misfortune robbed Mr Gundry from running in the Melbourne Cup in 1992 when the horse he was meant to ride, Sugar Stone, “broke down” early that year in the Geelong Cup.
He has however competed in the Perth Cup, the Railway Stakes, the Darby and the Champion Philly Stakes since hitting the track at the age of 14.
Melbourne Cup is a quality handicap race for horses three years and older, with the minimum handicap weight being 54 kilograms – handicap for the horse in terms of the jockey and riding gear.
Mr Gundry comments on the difference of weight from when he was racing, saying the weight should come back to 53.
“When I started my apprenticeship in the 1970’s the minimum weight was 46, now the minimum weight on most race days is 54, an eight-kilo difference in the weight scale,” he said.
Mr Gundry says the culture of Melbourne Cup has transformed.
“It’s a fashion event yes. I think it’s also not so much the day itself, but the whole Melbourne Cup week tends to be more about who to be seen with then the whole race, which from my perspective is always primary,” he said.
It’s an event Mr Gundry won’t ever miss, whether that’s from his television in his hometown in Midland, or attending the Melbourne event.
“Every year without fail, it gives me back racing memories. The career that gave me everything I have today,” Mr Gundry said.