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Verry Elleegant defends Chipping Norton crown - Richard Edmunds TDN AusNZ

Champion mare Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed {NZ}) lifted her Group 1 count to 11 at Randwick on Saturday, and in the process she did something she had never done before in her remarkable career.

Previously the winner of 10 different Group 1 races, the versatile 6-year-old lined up in the TAB Chipping Norton S. and successfully defended her title from 12 months ago. It was the first time in her career that Verry Elleegant has won the same race twice.

A jaw-dropping winner of the Melbourne Cup in early November with 57 kilograms on her back, Verry Elleegant returned to action with a seventh-placing in the G2 Apollo S. two weeks ago. She was sent out as favourite for her second-up performance on Saturday, and she lived up to expectations on a testing Heavy track.

Cruising into contention at the home turn for jockey James McDonald, Verry Elleegant sprinted to the lead in the straight in what looked like a winning move. But she began to peak on her run late in the race, and longshot She’s Ideel (Dundeel {NZ}) emerged as a distinct threat on her outside.

Verry Elleegant responded to that challenge with all of her well-known fighting qualities, holding on for a 0.14l win.

“That’s touched me a little,” said trainer Chris Waller, who has now won the Chipping Norton 10 times. “She is just an amazing horse to work with.

“I am blessed to be in the position I am to work with these great horses, great people that work behind the scenes, as has been the case with this horse from day one – even before she got to me.

“She’s a real piece of work, fights like a tiger. I thought the second horse might have had us at the 100-metre mark, but that’s when the Verry Elleeegant qualities pop in and she lifts to another level, and that’s just her. She is in for a great prep.

“Obviously this race has been pretty good to us, and this is her second time as well. The Ranvet has always been the plan for her next run, then the Queen Elizabeth – so three weeks and three weeks. It works out perfectly.”


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