James McDonald quips that Verry Elleegant “looks awkward whatever track she goes around” but says he is hopeful the multiple Group I-winning mare will handle the unique Moonee Valley layout for her Cox Plate assignment.
Verry Elleegant has a high head carriage and a quirky nature and at times her fiery nature has worked against her, with trainer Chris Waller sending her to dressage classes and using ear muffs to get the best out of her.
She has never raced before at The Valley but McDonald has now twice galloped her there, most recently at Breakfast With The Stars on Tuesday morning.
McDonald admits it isn’t a sure thing she will adapt to The Valley in the race conditions of the Cox Plate but he also sees no reason to doubt her on Saturday.
“She looks awkward whatever track she goes around, but we are hopeful,” McDonald told Racenet.
“She worked by herself (on Tuesday morning) and she was very quirky in herself, I think she thought it was a raceday.”
Verry Elleegant, the Australian Oaks winner, is rated a $17 chance in the Cox Plate where Waller will also saddle up Kings Will Dream ($17).
The master trainer sees no reason why Verry Elleegant won’t handle the intricacies of The Valley circuit or the loud and boisterous atmosphere of Cox Plate day.
“She has been to all the big dances, she was there on that sell-out crowd at Randwick on Queen Elizabeth Stakes day (Winx farewell day) when she won the Oaks and she didn’t turn a hair,” Waller said.
“She seems pretty good now days, we put the ear muffs on just to make sure she didn’t stress and get carried away with the atmosphere.
“I’ve been happy with all of her runs (this campaign), I just think barrier draws and tempo of races have been an indicator that she has been probably running better than her finishing positions suggest.
“Even last start (when winning the Group II Hill Stakes) we took her back to last, it was only a slowly run race and her sectionals were excellent. “
McDonald had the choice between riding Verry Elleegant and Kiwi x-factor horse Te Akau Shark but says the decision wasn’t hard.
He plumped for Verry Elleegant given he has ridden her seven times for four wins, including a pair of Group I triumphs. – Racenet.com.au