It all went according to script at Saturday’s farewell to Winx.
The Champion racehorse of the world raced to her 33rd straight win in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick, her jockey stood high in the irons waving his whip, her trainer cried and the crowd roared.
Then, as the cameras focussed in on a tender moment as her faithful and devoted rider Hugh Bowman lent forward to kiss her, she showed for a moment that she was a horse like any other and headbutted him, splitting his bottom lip.
For the next 15 minutes, Bowman soaked a couple of handfuls of tissues in blood as he dabbed at his wound and tried to explain what it all meant.
Exhibiting a sense of reality that may have had something to do with his swelling lip and loosened teeth, Bowman declined to be drawn into a gushing eulogy.
"At the end of the day, she's just a horse, she's a good one. But she's just a horse," Bowman said.
He overdid the self-control.
Winx was a lot more. She was a celebration, a personality, a joy, a national idol and a champion.
According to the official rankings, she is the best horse in the world, although some dispute it.
She nevertheless retires from racing with a record that is unsurpassed, and one that could easily be her’s forever.
The Winx story isn’t one of great romance, there’s no rags-to-riches, no cheating of death, not even a serious injury to be overcome.
It is one of a small breeder who wasn’t sure about selling her, about a trainer who initially thought no more of her than that she was “a nice athletic horse who wasn’t useless”, and a filly herself who was looked like a bit of a coat hanger, until she started winning.
Most of all it is one of a horse who won 37 races, the last 33 of them in succession, who won a record 25 G1s and retired as the greatest money winner the world has seen.
Winx was bred by John Camilleri, a man who’d started off in trotting and moved into thoroughbreds after a long lunch in 1997 with the pioneering syndicator Harry Lawton.
Lawton showed Camilleri and his other lunch guests two photographs, one of a Danzero colt and the other by Sir Tristram. They chose the Danzero, named him Fairway and watched him win three G1 races, including the 2000 Australian Derby.
Winx came along 11 years, and many horses, later, the result of a mating of Camilleri’s stakes-winning Al Akbar mare Vegas Showgirl and Darley’s inimitable dual-hemisphere stallion Street Cry.
“Street Cry was a proven sire in the northern hemisphere but at that stage hadn’t made his mark here,” Camilleri recalled.
“We rolled the dice and felt it was a good mating with a big attractive mare. Obviously, it was a very good mating.”
Winx was sent to the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast sale where she sold for $230,000 to bloodstock agent Guy Mulcaster on behalf of Magic Bloodstock.
Camilleri recalled the decision to sell Winx.
"She was a lovely weanling, a lovely yearling, and I must admit I thought long and hard about keeping her, but you can't keep them all," he said.
Nevertheless, Camilleri was prepared to buy her back for a maximum of $200,000, only to be outbid by Mulcaster.
Some 18 months later, in June 2014, Winx won on debut at Warwick Farm. Then she won again at Rosehill and, content that his instincts were right, her trainer Chris Waller put her away until the spring.
After a three-month break, she returned as a three-year-old and won the G2 Furious Stakes at Randwick in September 2014 and after second placings at her next two she went for a long break.
The run of victories that only ended with Saturday’s G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes win began in the G3 Sunshine Coast Guineas on 16 May, 2015, her first G1 following two weeks later in the Queensland Oaks.
The rest is a four-year gallop through racing history that ended, uncannily, with Winx winning her final race at the same meeting at which she suffered her last defeat in the G1 Australian Oaks in April 2015.