For four years they were inseparable as the queen of racing captured the hearts and minds of a nation winning 33 races in succession. But 12 months since Winx said goodbye, Candice Persijn has a new girl in her life.
Candice was the strapper for the superstar mare, always there, right by her side, be it on raceday, at the stables, or on those cold early mornings at the track, when even the clock was still asleep.
But as we celebrate a year since Winx ran her final race, Candice has revealed a new four-legged, five year old girl who has stolen her heart. She may not have the profile of Winx, but Bernie is the idol and adored in the household of Candice and her partner Adam Stewart.
“She is just a very big lap dog. She has got four beds and a couch. I went a little crazy. She needs this and this, and this one for this room of the house, and this one for that room of the house,” Candice said.
Both Candice and Adam work at the Chris Waller’s stables, have unusual hours, and this was one of the reasons they decided to get a dog from Greyhounds As Pets.
“We heard that she would suit our lifestyle. The perception is that they are high maintenance dogs, but she couldn’t be more low maintenance if she tried. She is a massive sook,” said Adam.
It was a few months after Winx had run her final race in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, that Candice and Adam decided they wanted to get a dog.
“I wanted a dog,” Candice said. “I said we were getting a dog. “Adam this is what we are doing. We are getting a greyhound.”
“I really wanted a dog and I knew someone at work who got a greyhound and talked about him all the time. I have always like them. They are really pretty animals.
“I was literally on the (GAPNSW) website every day looking at dogs, looking which ones I liked, which ones I didn’t, and I didn’t even look at Bernie. We put an application in with all our needs and circumstances, and I got a call from GAP and was told they might have a dog for us.
“We went there and had a look at her and it was love at first sight.”
Adds Adam: “When we first went down, we said we would have a look but keep our options open because we weren’t sure, but as soon as we turned up within the first 30 seconds it was a case of: “put the collar on she’s coming home.””
Candice was thrust into the spotlight with Winx, on camera and in photos with her almost as much as Hugh Bowman. It wasn’t something she was comfortable with but it has left special memories she can fondly reflect upon.
“You look back and go wow how amazing my life has been for the last four years,” she said. “Even though at times it was horrendous, outside in four degrees watching the horse on the walker, freezing my arse off, but you look at all the people she touched and brought to racing and what she did for racing, and what she did for me and how much everyone loved her, it was amazing.”
Candice said that while their jobs see them out the door early, Bernie doesn’t like it, but never complains, adding she has never heard her cry or bark.
“And when you get home, it’s just so nice to have someone there who is always there and always happy and always wants to see you. She just wants to be with you all the time, wherever you are, she will be there with you.
“Even if you get mad, she’ll be like: “OK I’m sorry, can I come back now?” She’s always happy, she loves her walks. I couldn’t ask for a better dog.
“She’s the love of my life – don’t tell Adam.”