Veteran 10-year-old Ihtsahymn entered the...
Premier Sydney-based trainer Chris Waller has made comparisons between his returning ATC Oaks winner Verry Elleegant and his all-time best horse Winx ahead of the mare’s first-up run on Saturday that could lead her to chase the Cox Plate – Melbourne Cup double in 2019.
Kiwi expat Waller became a household name globally thanks to the incredible success of arguably the world’s best racehorse, four-time Cox Plate champion Winx, who retired earlier this year with just shy of $26.5 million in prize money.
This Saturday at Royal Randwick the race named in her honour – the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) – will be run and won and Waller could have as many as four starters in the weight-for-age feature.
He has won the event, formerly the Group 2 Warwick Stakes, for the past four years thanks to the 2015 success of Royal Descent and the subsequent three straight wins by the champion Winx.
Four of the 14 entries for this year’s event are Waller-trained including Zed mare Verry Elleegant who returns to the races after a hugely successful autumn campaign.
A winner of six of her 11 starts, as a filly Verry Elleegant enjoyed three straight wins last time in including her elite level double in Sydney.
She handled a Heavy (9) track at Rosehill in late May taking out the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) by two lengths then headed to Randwick on Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day for another top-level success.
On the same day her heroic stablemate was running in her swansong race, Verry Elleegant handled a rise in distance and a much firmer Good (4) track to salute in the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) as the $2 favourite.
Saturday sees her kick off what Waller is hoping will be an equally, if not even more, successful preparation.
Verry Elleegant is a two-time runner fresh and the current all-in Winx Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au list her as the $4.20 second favourite behind Godolphin’s gun galloper Avilius ($3.30).
Both horses are likely to clash again as a new weight-for-age champion in Australia looks to fill Winx’s shoes in the Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 26.
Waller also named the Group 1 $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) over the two miles at Flemington on November 2 as a possible spring Grand Final for genuine young staying type Verry Elleegant.
Despite missing an exhibition gallop at Randwick last Saturday due to a tender foot, Waller remains confident of a good first-up showing from Verry Elleegant who he describes as a “similar type” to Winx.
“I see Verry Elleegant as a similar type of horse to Winx in the same year and through the experience of training Winx,” he told The Australian.
“I only really want to give Verry Elleegant three runs, and if she has a fourth run, it will be the Melbourne Cup after running in the Cox Plate.”
After winning last Saturday’s Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield, Tasmanian-trained mare Mystic Journey leads futures Ladbrokes Cox Plate betting at $4.80.
Avilius is next best at $6, while Verry Elleegant is at a more generous $12 quote.
As for the iconic Melbourne Cup race on the first Tuesday of November, Verry Elleegant is at $31 in markets led by the defending champion Cross Counter ($17).
Waller is also likely to pay final acceptances for Youngstar, Unforgotten and King’s Will Dream in the Winx Stakes 2019 with the field to be finalised on Wednesday morning.
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