The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Lots of good horses looked a chance on Saturday at Caulfield, but nobody came close to matching Verry Elleegant’s speed down the straight in the Ethereal Stakes.
After what shaped up to be a very interesting race pattern, Darren Weir’s lightly raced three-year old raced from a wide position to descend on the leaders.
With less than 100m to go, Verry Elleegant dropped on second placegetter Aristia to win by a neck, saluting for punters who jumped on the $2.30 race-favourite.
“She was a little bit slow, she probably began a little bit too well and a little bit keen early,” winning jockey John Allen said after the race.
“But once I got her back, once we got through a couple of furlongs, we had a lovely cart into the race just followed Damien Lane all the way, and I thought the horse would be hard to beat.”
The New Zealand import out of Zed has finished no worse than third over five career starts dating back to July, and appears to have the turn of foot to challenge at Group 1 level.
Allen admits he was a little nervous coming down the straight, but was always confident in the horse underneath him.
“She seemed very raw and green when she finally got there, she was sort of looking around, I just think the last 50 yards she really put them away. She’s not very big, but she’s got a very big engine” Allen said.
Prior to Saturday’s race, Verry Elleegant joined fellow stablemate Amphitrite as the co-Kennedy Oaks favourite at $4.00 odds with Ladbrokes.
A strong third placing in the Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) at Flemington a fortnight ago earned Weir first, second and third in the Group 2 race, and more importantly, an insight into the horses future.
“That’s the question isn’t it, do we go to the Wakeful or do we back up next week and run in the 2000m race at Moonee Valley?” Weir said when asked on whether Verry Elleegant would head straight to the Oaks on November 8.
“Or do we just hope and pray, and hope we’ve got her fit enough to go to the Oaks off that? I’ve got great people working for me so they’ll be able to sort it out” Weir went on to say.
Either way, Saturday’s win in the Ethereal has seen Verry Elleegant emerge as the $3.00 favourite ahead of Amphitrite at $4.60.
After such a strong second-up run following her Australian debut earlier this month, it sounds as though Weir was happy with Allen’s ride.
“It was a good ride wasn’t it, she made it hard for him for the first 800 metres” Weir said.
“Had the head in the face and that’s very difficult for a jockey when the horses are overracing racing like that. But he persevered, he got her head down, and then he got her into a beautiful rhythm, and then he just let it all unfold in front of him waiting for the gaps.
“More importantly, giving her clear air late which she gradually just builds, and builds and builds.”
Verry Elleegant found plenty of luck down the straight, but second placegetter Aristia also fought on strongly after running a disappointing ninth in the Manifold last start.
The three-year old has firmed into $4.00 for the Oaks, that’s if she winds up there.
“Touch disappointed, but probably satisfied she’s up to the grade after not seeing how she really got out in the Manifold” trained Matt Ellerton said.
“We’ll go to the Wakeful that’s for sure, but hopefully she can get there, and that’ll tell us if we can go to the Oaks”
Third placegetter Sizzleme and Greysful Glamour have also been slight Oaks market movers.
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