Champion mare Winx’s former stablemate Verry Elleegant kicked off her Melbourne Cup campaign with a narrow win in the race named after the great mare, the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Randwick today.
Trainer Chris Waller collect his sixth Winx Stakes winning trophy, which was previously know as the Warwick Stakes up until 2017, and was won by Winx on three consecutive occasions from 2016 to 2018.
Verry Elleegant was having her first run back after finishing second in the Group 1 $2m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Day Two of The Championships and she is now the $17 third favourite for the Group 1 $8m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3.
Verry Elleegant is also entered for the Group 1 $5m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 24 and shares favouritism with Russian Camelot at $10 with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Winning jockey James McDonald had Verry Elleegent ($7.50) positioned mid-field from an awkward barrier and when the mare was travelling so strongly at the 550m, he let her stride forward around the field and she was the widest runner when heads were turned for home.
Verry Elleegant surged to the front at the 250m mark but was instantly challenged by her stablemate Star Of The Seas ($31) who momentarily put his head in front.
McDonald was able to lift Verry Elleegant close to the line and the mare stuck her neck out far enough to get the judge’s decision by a nose over Star Of The Seas.
The Matthew Smith trained Fierce Impact ($15) tried hard to finish third behind the Waller quinella just ahead of another Waller runner, Imaging ($31).
Fifth placegetter Con Te Partiro was sent out as the $6 equal favourite in a wide betting race while the other equal favourite Master Of Wine never threatened and finished in twelfth position.
Waller is very excited in the way the Verry Elleegant has returned for the Spring and is looking forward to seeing her compete in the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup.
“This horse has come back very well. You’ve seen that today. She did a lot of work through the run and was still strong late,” Waller said.
“How do we get her to win every start this preparation? I don’t know but I want her to win the Grand Finals as well. Whether it is Cox Plate or Melbourne Cup – that has a good ring to it. She is the right horse to do it.”
“It has been a great team effort. James on race day and my team back home Chris Harwood and a lot of riders who help day in day out. These horses are not easy. Good riders make it look easy and it’s good to be working with some of the best horseman.”
“I thought he (Star Of The Seas) had it but Verry Elleegant stole the show as Winx did with Foxplay. Imaging went terrific. Great trial towards an Epsom type. Plan with him.”