The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Mo’unga returned in enormous form toughing it out first-up in a great battle to the line to defeat brilliant eight-time winning mare and last year’s champion Verry Elleegant in the Winx Stakes 2021.
Following the earlier fall of Brenton Avdulla aboard the ill-fated Xtremetime in the Group 2 Silver Shadow, there was another on-track tragedy marring the opening Group 1 of the season with Brandenburg going amiss 80m from the finish in the $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m).
His hoop Rachel King fell after looking a winning hope, but walked off from the track escaping serious injury, while sadly the fall was fatal for Brandenburg.
It was the warhorse Dreamforce away best to lead the Winx Stakes field around, while Chris Waller’s resuming mare Verry Elleegant was midfield caught a little deep the early stages.
Jockey James McDonald began to wind up the reigning Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant as they approached the turn form home, the six-year-old daughter of Zed moving up into third before straightening.
Dreamforce was in front at the top of the straight, but it was Verry Elleegant with the Annabel Neasham-trained Mo’unga and his hoop Tommy Berry right on her back looking the dangers.
Two hundred out from the line and Dreamforce was still leading before being run down by the eventual quinella and a swarm of others coming home late.
Savabeel entire Mo’unga handed Neasham her maiden Group 1 win as a trainer in the autumn’s Rosehill Guineas and returned to his best for her third elite level success following a Doomben Cup win with Zaaki for the stable over the winter.
“I think he looked the winner a long, long way out but when he came up the outside of Verry Elleegant I knew he was in for a tough battle because she’s such a fighter too,” an emotional Neasham told Sky Thoroughbred Central post-race.
“It was a super ride.”
Mo’unga showed true grit to fight off the gutsy Verry Elleegant all the way to the line, while Bjorn Baker’s Tancred takes runner-up and Sydney Cup fourth placed mare from the autumn, She’s Ideel made up all the ground from dead last to finish a surprise third and round out the Winx Stakes trifecta.
There are a host of spring options now for the very talented Mo’unga including a potential run in the Group 1 $1 million George Main Stakes (1600m) back at Randwick on September 18.
“He’s in for a great prep,” Neasham said.
“I don’t know where we’ll go now, but I think we’ll have a fun spring!”
Winx (2016-18) completed the double three years running and the latest all-in 2021 George Main Stakes odds on Mo’unga to be the next are into $8 through Ladbrokes.com.au.
Likely to be better over further, Verry Elleegant lost few admirers in her failed bid at back-to-back Winx Stakes victories and remains the $2.80 favourite to win the George Main Stakes just ahead of Neasham’s seven-length Doomben Cup champ Zaaki ($3.40).
2021 Winx Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||11||MO’UNGA (NZ)||Annabel Neasham||Tommy Berry||12||58.5kg||$11|
|2||12||VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ)||Chris Waller||James McDonald||0.24L||5||57kg||$4.20F|
|3||13||SHE’S IDEEL||Bjorn Baker||Jason Collett||0.31L||14||57kg||$51|
|4||7||KEIAI NAUTIQUE (JPN)||Matthew Smith||Glen Boss||0.37L||4||59kg||$41|
|5||3||CASCADIAN (GB)||James Cummings||Hugh Bowman||0.48L||7||59kg||$6.50|
|6||2||THINK IT OVER||Kerry Parker||James Innes Jnr||0.66L||2||59kg||$7.50|
|7||5||IMAGING (GB)||Chris Waller||Ms Kathy O’Hara||1.76L||6||59kg||$14|
|8||14||HUNGRY HEART||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||1.8L||3||56.5kg||$14|
|9||1||KOLDING (NZ)||Chris Waller||Tim Clark||1.83L||10||59kg||$6.50|
|10||8||MASTER OF WINE (GER)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Regan Bayliss||2.5L||8||59kg||$61|
|11||4||DREAMFORCE||John Thompson||Andrew Adkins||3.33L||11||59kg||$19|
|12||10||MOUNT POPA (IRE)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Joshua Parr||3.39L||1||59kg||$18|
|13||6||STAR OF THE SEAS (NZ)||Chris Waller||Jay Ford||4.98L||9||59kg||$26|
|LR||9||BRANDENBURG (NZ)||John Sargent||Ms Rachel King||13||59kg||$21|
*Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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