Trainer wary as mare resumes off Cup prep
It takes a special horse to come off a Melbourne Cup preparation and return to win a weight-for-age sprint but Verry Elleegant might just be good enough to do it.
That is the mindset trainer Chris Waller is adopting ahead of the mare’s resumption in Saturday’s Group Two Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
Sydney’s dominant trainer for more than a decade, Waller is cognisant a two-mile preparation could have made Verry Elleegant more dour.
But her first-up win last campaign in the Winx Stakes, run over the Apollo course and distance, is also fresh in his mind.
“When she came back in the spring she had come off a 2400 metre race and was second a week or two later in the Queen Elizabeth, yet she was still sharp enough to win over 1400,” Waller said.
“To win a 1400 metre race first up and go through and win a Caulfield Cup, that is serious. That’s not common in the modern day.
“So I’m wary of it, but class is hard to beat.”
Verry Elleegant will be one of four Waller runners in the Group Two feature, along with Kolding, Toffee Tongue and Funstar.
While he expects Toffee Tongue to find her rivals too sharp, his remaining trio all present with legitimate chances.
Kolding will need a dry track to be at his best while Funstar is chasing her first win as an older horse.
A Group One-winning three-year-old, the mare is regarded as the stable’s leading hope for next month’s All-Star Mile in Melbourne.
“She has been a bit of a bridesmaid over the past twelve months, obviously a Group One winner in her own right, but running some nice placings behind some very good horses in the spring certainly hasn’t dented my enthusiasm,” Waller said.
“I think she is still a really good horse who is capable of winning more Group One races.
“She will run well on Saturday and will certainly be a genuine chance over the 1400 metre distance.”
Godolphin’s Golden Eagle winner Colette will also kick off her preparation in the Apollo Stakes and trainer James Cummings says she has come back in great order.
However, she is yet to win at a journey below 1500 metres and is unplaced in two first-up runs.
“There’s no doubt she’ll improve with the run and you can expect to see her to quickly step up in distance,” Cummings said.