Verry Elleegant stamps class in Oaks win
James McDonald salutes the crowd as Verry Elleegant takes out the Gr.1 Australian Oaks (2400m) Photo: Bradley Photographers
Chris Waller believes the best is still to come for Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed) after she stamped her class on the Group One Australian Oaks with another dominant win.
The filly hasn't been straightforward to train and at times has struggled to settle in her races but the time and effort invested by the Waller team and jockey James McDonald has been rewarded with her racing manners finally complementing her ability.
Despite a wide draw, McDonald was cool under pressure, easing Verry Elleegant back shortly after the start and slotting her into a position one off the fence.
He didn't panic when Hugh Bowman on second elect Frankely Awesome made a mid-race move to go to the lead, biding his time on the even-money favourite before bringing her down the outside with a sweeping run to score by 1-3/4 lengths over Scarlet Dream.
"That was a brilliant win. She's a very exceptional filly and I think the best is yet to come," Waller said.
"I think getting her to switch off and settle has been the winning of the Group One Oaks today.
"It was a great ride from James McDonald. The barrier was pretty difficult and to be one off the fence going past the winning post the first time was pretty special."
Verry Elleegant was Waller's 99th Group One winner and his third Australian Oaks success after victories by Royal Descent in 2013 and Unforgotten 12 months ago.
McDonald has been the filly's regular rider this campaign and was thrilled to get the job done when it mattered most.
"She's been a work in progress," McDonald said.
"I've had a lot to do with her the whole time, she's been tricky but she's just grown up so much.
I never thought I'd see the day of her relaxing over 2400 but she's done that brilliantly.
"She was dominant."
Verry Elleegant’s Oaks triumph was an outstanding result for Auckland-based breeder Don Goodwin, who also maintains an ownership interest in the filly as the manager of the Ellee Syndicate.
The Octogenarian was on track at Randwick to savour the victory, along with a large group of fellow owners, many of whom bought into the talented Kiwi galloper after the promise she showed in New Zealand under the tutelage of former trainer Nick Bishara, another who shares in the ownership.
Goodwin purchased Verry Elleegant’s dam Opulence at the 2011 New Zealand Bloodstock May Sale for $14,000.
A daughter of Danroad, Opulence is from the great Eight Carat family, with her third dam Cotehele House, the dam of Danewin and Commands.
A two-time winner, Opulence was bought with a view to being mated with the Zabeel stallion Zed, a horse in which Goodwin had an ownership interest from the outset.
Out of the Group One winning Danehill mare Emerald Dream, a granddaughter of Cotehele House, Zed retired as the winner of just one of his four career starts, with injury preventing him from reaching his undoubted potential.
The first three live foals of Opulence have all been winners, with Verry Elleegant preceded by the three-win mare Black Lace, by Towkay, and Verry Elleegant’s year older brother Verry Flash, a promising four-time winning stayer.
Opulence has a two-year-old by Haradasun which is in training with Sue Walsh, while Goodwin unsurprisingly went back to the successful Zed mating, with the mare having a colt foal by the stallion and is again carrying to Zed.