Leading French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard is looking forward to welcoming 11-time Group One winner Verry Elleegant to his Chantilly barn later this week.
The New Zealand-bred mare is transferring to his care from leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller and Graffard is excited about the challenge ahead.
“It was an amazing phone call (to get from the owners), I couldn’t really believe it,” Graffard told RSN.
“It is a big honour for myself and my team to take over Verry Elleegant and campaign her in Europe.
“As soon as I got off the phone, the media were on top of the news. It was very quick and I realised how big this challenge is.”
Graffard said he will spend the next few weeks familiarizing himself with Verry Elleegant and he has pencilled in some later summer targets for the mare in preparation for her major target, the Gr.1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) in October.
“It is very important that I get to understand the filly myself,” he said.
“Everything is different over here (Europe) – the style of racing, tracks. She needs to get used to all of this and we need time to understand the filly.
“I understand she can be a bit quirky but Chantilly is heaven for horses. You can keep them very quiet.
“She is due to arrive at the end of the week and she is coming from a spell. That will give me time to get her fit.
“I don’t know the mare so I don’t know how long it will take me to get her fit but ideally if we can race at the end of July and the beginning of August.
“If we are to go to the Arc it is hard to go with one run. In France, the pace in the race is very slow so I might have to start her off over a shorter trip.
“There is a Group One over a mile at Deauville at the end of July and one over 10 furlongs in August. Hopefully she will be ready for one of those races and we can step her up in trip for the Autumn.”
Graffard said a major plus for Verry Elleegant is she can handle the soft tracks.
“The good sign is she can handle soft ground, which is very important in Europe, especially in the autumn,” he said.
By Grangewilliam Stud stallion Zed, Verry Elleegant initially raced in New Zealand for former trainer Nick Bishara for whom she won two of her three starts before heading to Australia.