Verry Elleegant got the job done for Chris Waller on Saturday winning the champion trainer his first Caulfield Cup in yet another brilliant staying performance.
Already with five Group 1’s to her name – four of which belonged to James McDonald – this time it was Mark Zahra’s turn to add to the mantelpiece after winning the Turnbull Stakes aboard the four-year-old a fortnight ago at Flemington.
The step up to the 2400m looked ideal for the New Zealand import having her fourth run back from a spell, although Zahra wasn’t without work to do in the capacity field of internationals.
Dashing Willoughby set the tempo up front from the gates while Verry Elleegant settled ten lengths off the leader towards midfield.
At one point it seemed as though Zahra might become trapped on the fence, but some clever manoeuvring helped the pair stay three-wide heading into the turn.
With a wall of horses charging, Verry Eleegant grabbed the lead at the 200m mark and charged the line beautifully to hold off co-favourite Anthony Van Dyck over the closing stages.
Zahra credited the horses toughness after the race in what was also his first Caulfield Cup win.
“It’s a great feeling, gee she’s tough. Fought it out. To win a Cup, unfortunately no crowd, but to win a Cup, it’s amazing,” Zahra told racing.com.
To say the New Zealand import has improved on her three-year-old season would be an understatement.
The now champion stayer once had a tendency to over-race and throw her head around under previous trainer Darren Weir, two problems that have since been rectified since transitioning to the Waller stable.
“She’s just kept maturing with age and you’d imagine she’ll continue to do that as she steps up and, hopefully this year, we head on to a Melbourne Cup” Waller’s stable representative Jo Taylor said.
Ladbrokes bookmakers have acted accordingly to Verry Elleegant’s sixth Group 1 win, trimming her quote in the All-In Melbourne Cup market from $19 into $8.00.
“It’s a very special win with a very special horse. I thought she was beaten at the 100m mark to tell you the truth and she dug so deep,” Waller told Channel 7 after the race.
“You think of all the negatives, I thought that weight 55kg, it might sound a lot to those watching at home, but I can ensure you if you look at the Caulfield Cup history it suggests mares with 55kg don’t win very often, so that’s how good she is.”
Eleven horses have gone on to win the Melbourne Cup after winning the Caulfield Cup, the last of which was Ethereal back in 2011.
Outside of Verry Elleegant, Anthony Van Dyck has also received some love in Melbourne Cup betting firming from $19.00 into $10.00, alongside last year’s second place-getter Prince Of Arran, who is $21 into $15.
Ladbrokes’ All-In Melbourne Cup market can be viewed here.