Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, by Chris Roots
Super mare Verry Elleegant has been named Australian racehorse of the year after her dominant 2020-21 season, in which she won five group 1s including the Caulfield Cup.
Verry Elleegant also took home the middle-distance and stayer categories, in a recognition of her versatility winning at the top level from 1400m to 2400m.
It was another triumphant year for the Chris Waller stable, with Australian Oaks winner Hungry Heart winning the three-year-old filly award and Nature Strip once again sprinter of the year after winning the Lightning Stakes and TJ Smith. Waller was also recognised as the leading group 1 trainer.
James McDonald was given the group 1 jockey award after he booted home eight top-level winners for the season.
“When you are riding horses like Verry Elleegant, Nature Strip, Zaaki and Anamoe, you are going to have a good year,” McDonald said. “They have all had good years and I’m looking forward to keeping associations with them.
“Hopefully I can start by winning The Everest with Nature Strip. He is going as well as ever and is at the top of his game.”
Verry Elleegant started the season by taking the first group 1 contest of the term, the Winx Stakes, and went on a winning spree through spring and autumn.
She went to Melbourne in the spring, winning the Turnbull Stakes and the Caulfield Cup, before being at the top of her game in autumn back in Sydney, where she took the Chipping Norton Stakes and Ranvet Stakes before being runner-up to Addeybb in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
She was a clear winner of the horse of the year, but some categories were a lot closer, with Golden Slipper winner Stay Inside edging out Anamoe for the two-year-old award, while the Golden Rose-Caulfield Guineas double was enough to see Ole Kirk named three-year-old colt or gelding for 2020-21.
Grand Annual winner Gold Medals won the jumper of the year, while Written Tycoon won his first champion sire award.
The ceremony was held as a virtual event because of Covid hosted out of the Sky channel studio in Sydney on Monday.
It also included Racing NSW’s Awards for Excellence with Chris Waller picking up his 11th Bart Cummings Medal and TJ Smith award for being the premier trainer.
McDonald won his fifth George Moore award as Sydney’s premier jockey after riding 131 winners for the term. Tom Sherry won the Theo Green award as leading Sydney apprentice.
The Sydney Strapper of the Year award went to Clare Heuston from the Waller team, and the BOBS horse of the year also went to the Rosehill team after Oscar Zulu amassed $90,000 in bonus.
Tommy Berry, who finished second on the jockeys’ premiership with 111 winners, was recognised for his contribution to promoting the industry, with the late Caryl Williamson named Racing Writers’ Media Personality of the Year.