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Verry Elleegant Trounces Tancred Field - Richard Edmunds TNZ AusNZ

There is no season like autumn for Verry Elleegant, who collected her third Group 1 victory with a breath-taking performance in Saturday’s KIA Tancred S. at Rosehill.

This time 12 months ago, Verry Elleegant lived up to her long-held potential at the highest level with brilliant back-to-back wins in the Vinery Stud S. and Australian Oaks. In 2020, after a patchy spring, she has again stepped up to autumn stardom.

She began her campaign with a fourth in the G2 Apollo S. and a second to Te Akau Shark (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle {Ire}) in the G1 Chipping Norton S.

In last Saturday’s G1 Ranvet S., she played an outstanding supporting role in a great two-horse tussle with Addeyb (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}), finishing second and almost 6l ahead of the rest of the field.

There was no Addeyb in Saturday’s line-up, and Verry Elleegant showed that she was a class above her eight opponents.

“She was here last year, winning the Oaks and the Vinery,” trainer Chris Waller said. “She has been everywhere, but she is still getting better. She is only four and racing against the older horses, basically. She is just a genuine athlete at a staying trip.

“She is obviously a great horse. We haven’t had her over this distance very often, but each time we have, she has just been dominant. It is a very special win.

“It has been a big effort for the whole stable to get to settle as well as she is doing. She is quite a highly revved horse. Full credit to James McDonald (jockey).”

But Saturday’s performance contrasted to last Saturday, where Verry Elleegant had sat second and stalked Addeyb for most of the 2000-metre journey.

This time she began only fairly and McDonald was happy to take up a midfield position. With 600 metres to run, she was more than 10l adrift of Danceteria (Fr) (Redoute’s Choice), who made a bold mid-race move from last to take a big lead coming up to the home turn.

But when McDonald eased off the brakes in the straight, Verry Elleegant exploded. She bounded to the lead in just a handful of strides and streaked away, winning by 4.25l. McDonald eased her down in the last 100 metres and gave her an affectionate pat passing the finish line.

Image courtesy of Martin King

“She was a star today,” McDonald said. “Obviously I thought I would probably be outside the lead, but she felt better coming from off the speed to be honest. But that’s how adaptable she is and how she has grown as a mare. Hopefully we are only going to reap the rewards now and what she has already done is just a bonus. What I felt today was just extraordinary.”

The best could still be yet to come, with Waller hoping that Verry Elleegant’s autumn excellence might be extended into a Melbourne spring.

“The Caulfield Cup would be high on our radar, and even a Melbourne Cup,” he said. “Let’s hope we get weighted as well as some of the other horses from around the world and they keep giving the Australian horses a chance. She’ll be there and she’ll be one of them.”

Cheering her home from afar

Coronavirus protocols put paid to any hope of an on-course appearance for Nick Bishara, who part-owns Verry Elleegant and trained her when she began her career in New Zealand.

But he got a huge thrill from watching on television at home as his pride and joy careered away from her Tancred rivals.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “I’m so excited and super pumped. She didn’t just win – she destroyed them. - Nick Bashara

“It was pretty special, but at the same time it is a little bit surreal. It’s just me, my wife and our two dogs here watching it on TV. There are a lot of great owners involved in this mare who I’d love to be around at the moment and celebrating with.

“But I’m so appreciative to be involved with the winner of a $1.5 million race. It’s an incredible stake. My brother, who isn’t really into racing, thought it was a typo and it was a $150,000 race.

“I take my hat off to Australian racing. Peter V’Landys and John Messara are visionaries and they’ve still been able to put on this incredible show, even when everything’s on lockdown.

“It’s tough for Kiwis at the moment. We’re one of the best breeding grounds in the world, but our racing industry is really struggling and we just can’t compete. If it wasn’t for Verry Elleegant, I’d probably have gone under, so it’s quite emotional to be experiencing these wins.

“Chris Waller has done a wonderful job with this mare, and now he’s talking about Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. I still might not be able to make it over there then, with talk about travel restrictions and things like that.

“But if there’s a silver lining in all this, it might be that racing is getting a little bit more attention. We made the TV news tonight and got a bit of good publicity for our sport.”

Image courtesy of Martin King

Verry Elleegant was bred by octogenarian Don Goodwin and is by Zed (NZ), who began his career at a NZ$500 service fee and at one stage served Clydesdale mares in the South Island.

Verry Elleegant has now had 19 starts for eight wins, five placings and $2.75 million in stakes.

“I’ve got a full brother at home, who was a late foal and is a bit smaller,” Bishara said. “And her half-sister Black Lace might be going to Arrowfield to visit Snitzel next spring.”


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