Verry Elleegant (by Zed) stamped herself as a 3-year-old Classic winner of the very highest order with an effortless victory in the $1,000,000, Group 1, Heineken 3 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick in Sydney.
James McDonald salutes on Verry Elleegantly, photo Sportpix.com.au
Sent to post an even-money favourite after an impressive last-start victory in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes over 2000 metres, the temperamental daughter of New Zealand-based sire Zed never really gave her supporters any reason for concern in an event in which she was handled with aplomb by ace hoop James McDonald.
Ridden back in the field and out of trouble throughout the early and middle stages of the traditional mile-and-a-half Classic, Verry Elleegant was produced in copybook fashion down the centre of the Randwick straight to win the coveted feature and to prove to be a cut above her opposition.
Despite an intuitive ride by Hugh Bowman aboard minor placegetter Frankely Awesome (by Frankel) and the game pursuit of Scarlet Dream (by Sebring) when chasing home the winner in second place, Verry Elleegant proceeded to win with a good bit in hand on her 13 rivals.
“This has been brilliant,” declared winning rider James McDonald after the race.
A very happy McDonald returns on Verry Elleegantly, photo Sportpix.com.au
“She’s been a work in progress. I’ve had a lot to do with her for the whole time. She has been tricky, but she has grown up so much. I never thought I would see the day of her relaxing over 2400m, however she has done that brilliantly.
“She felt even better on that track today. She ran as straight as a die and was dominant.”
McDonald continued: “She has done a marvellous job so far. I am very proud of her and the Chris Waller Team to prepare her for this.
“I’ve had four or five days to think about the whole game plan. I was at the barrier draw and got barrier 12. I was a little bit devastated by that because I thought she would need all of the favours.
“She is a super filly and she is improving all of the time. Wait until she comes back after a spell, she will be even better. Her manners are getting better.
“There was a little throw of the head at about the 1800m, but apart from that she was faultless,” McDonald concluded.
Winning trainer Chris Waller was very much in agreement with McDonald.
“That was a brilliant win,” said Waller. “She is a very exceptional filly. I think the best is yet to come.
“I’m very lucky to be training her. She’s come from Darren Weir and that team had done a fantastic job when she was handed over. I do respect that regardless of what has happened.
“My team have done a fantastic job as well to get her to switch off and settle in a Group 1 Oaks today. Hats off to my riders at home. I think that’s been a big help.”
In terms of his jockey’s performance, Waller remarked: “It was a great ride from James McDonald. The barrier was very difficult and to be one off the fence going past the winning post the first time was pretty special. You can’t account for how far they have to travel sitting three wide.”
Verry Elleegant won by one and three-quarter lengths from Scarlet Dream, who in turn finished two-and-half lengths clear of Frankely Awesome.
Starting prices of the trio were $2.00 favourite, $12.00 and $5.00.
Winning time was 2m31.26s (last 600m in 35.46s).
Verry Elleegant is raced by Jomara Bloodstock Ltd, Ellee, Balmerino Racing Partnership, Mr M Wanzare, Mr T K Barry, Mr B F Sokolski, Mr A Kheir, Mr K M Stocker, Honeycomb Stud, Mr J A O’Neill and Mr V Kheir and has now faced the starter on 11 occasions for six wins, two seconds and one third for $1,278,119 in earnings.
ATC Oaks, photo finish picture ATC
What the beaten jockeys said:
Damian Lane (Aristia): “She was honest. Things didn’t pan out for us. She probably overraced a little bit then it was a true staying test from the 700-800m which probably doesn’t suit her. I thought she was honest but it wasn’t her day today.”
Hugh Bowman (Frankely Awesome): “She ran her race. I was very proud of her but the winner was just too classy.”
Glen Boss (Imelda Mary): “Lovely run. Wasn’t good enough.”
Stephen Baster (Maracaibo): “She ran well. She tried her heart but is probably just a couple of lengths off those better fillies.”
Kerrin McEvoy (Aliferous): “Got a little bit keen in stages through the race until the pace increased at the 1200m. She stayed on well. I presented at the furlong and galloped on strongly.”
Blake Shinn (Scarlet Dream): “Super run, really returned to form today on a firmer track and a gallant second.”
Opie Bosson (Clementina): “We got a nice run following the winner. The winner just quickened up too quick for us and left us a bit flat footed.”
Tim Clark (Autumn): “She ran well, she just missed the kick and got back in an awkward spot but still finished off okay.”
Jason Collett (Rocknavar): “Good run. I’m really happy with that.”
Tommy Berry (Romani Girl): “Couldn’t have had a tougher run so for her to still be there at the 200m and just compound late was a huge effort.”
Brenton Avdulla (Miss Moana): “She had a good run in the race. Tried her guts out.”
Travis Wolfgram (Happy Every Day): “Tried hard, just question the distance.”