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Kiwi connection pull off Verry Elleegant group 1 coup

New Zealand owner-breeder Don Goodwin was a proud man watching Verry Elleegant race to group 1 victory in the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday.

A lot of the time you hear about planning in racing, but this was the ultimate case of patience and planning. It had been five years in the making, since Goodwin bought Danroad broodmare Opulence.

“I bought her in foal at a sale and it was to send her to Zed, and this is this horse. You can say that worked,” Goodwin said.

“I have never won a group, and she has done it and we still have the Oaks to come. It doesn’t get much better for a Kiwi to have Chris Waller train and James McDonald ride your first group 1 winner.”

Verry Elleegant ($2.10) was in another class to her rivals as she charged away for a 1 length win from Frankely Awesome ($26) with Aristia ($11) another 2 lengths away in third. She has the Australian Oaks at her mercy after Waller ruled out the Derby for her. McDonald declared the filly, which revelled in the deep heavy ground “was just getting stronger and stronger at the end’’.

Waller has only had Verry Elleegant for this preparation and he had worrried over the decision to take the nose roll off and put on ear muffs after her Phar Lap Stakes win a fortnight ago. “She’s a smart filly. She just needed a little bit of working out,” Waller said. “Having the confidence to take gear off and put extra gear on is not easy when you’re training winners.

‘‘We needed to make sure we could tell the punters when you’ve got a favourite going into a group 1 race ‘don’t worry, we’ve put the ear muffs on just to help her relax and taken the nose roll off because it wasn’t doing anything’.

‘‘It’s worked out pretty well.”

McDonald labelled the move a masterstoke.

“That is the best she has travelled and relaxed,” McDonald said. “It just meant I had so much horse when I was coming into the race.

“She’s been a massive work in progress. She’s not the finished article but she is maturing all the time. She definitely has the talent to get to the top. She just has to put it together.I can’t wait for the Oaks, because she has a turn of foot and I have no doubt we will run the trip. But she might need blinkers now. She hits the front and goes left, right because she thinks the job is done.’’

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