Jockey James McDonald has urged supporters not to give up on Verry Elleegant after the spring contender finished near the rear of the field in Saturday’s Group I Winx Stakes at Randwick.
Verry Elleegant was a $5 second favourite to win first-up for the spring as gutsy frontrunner Samadoubt caused a major shock to win for trainer Bjorn Baker.
Chris Waller’s Group I winning mare struggled to keep pace with the leading contingent and only beat Le Romain home when finishing ninth, 3-3/4 lengths off the front in the first Group I of the new season.
It put a question mark over how well Verry Elleegant has returned for the spring but McDonald is adamant supporters shouldn’t jump off and believe’s she’s capable of still being a contender.
The Cox Plate and possibly the Melbourne Cup were Waller’s main targets for the spring with Verry Elleegant heading into the carnival.
Verry Elleegant is a $11 Cox Plate chance with Sportsbet, $26 for the Melbourne Cup and is a $15 favourite in the Caulfield Cup should the stable take that path.
McDonald believes you will see the best of Verry Elleegant over staying trips and told Racenet before the Winx Stakes that’s where he expected the daughter of Zed would excel.
“I know for a fact she responds to vigourous riding and we haven’t asked that of her yet so when I say she feels more like a stayer this prep, that doesn’t mean she’s not going to sprint well fresh on Saturday,” he said.
Saturday’s run only solidified the Sydney premiership winning hoop’s opinion going forward.
“She’s returned ok. She’s just a bit more dour and I had a few concerns about that regarding (Saturday’s) race,” McDonald said.
“Her work suggested she wants a mile, mile and a half.
“They are just a bit sharp for her now, I think even at a mile they might be a bit quick for her, especially against these tough older horses.
“She’ll improve off it and don’t give up on her.”
Verry Elleegant confirmed her rising star status during the autumn carnival in Sydney after winning back-to-back Group Is.
She was a dominant winner of both the Group I Vinery Stud Stakes and ATC Oaks.