IN Racing
Second Chipping Norton for freakish mare
Champion mare Verry Elleegant showed all her fighting qualities when landing her second Gr.1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
NZ Racing Desk | February 26, 2022
Verry Elleegant takes out the Gr.1 Chipping Norton Stakes. Photo:

Champion mare Verry Elleegant showed all her fighting qualities when landing her second Gr.1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m). 

Now an 11-time Group One winner, it was the first time the six-year-old daughter of Zed had won a Group One race that she had previously conquered, with the mare successful in 2021 having finished runner up to Te Akau Shark in the race in 2020. 

The reigning Melbourne Cup champion sat three-wide for much of the mile contest with jockey James McDonald making a decisive move rounding the home bend which saw the darling of the turf quickly claim her rivals before staving off a late-challenge from outsider She’s Ideel to score by a head. 

Trainer Chris Waller said he was blessed to work with a horse of Verry Elleegant's calibre and he was in awe of her incredible will to win. 

"She's a real piece of work, she fights like a tiger," Waller said. 

"I thought the second horse might have had us at the 100-metre mark but that's when the Verry Elleegant qualities pop in and she lifts to another level and that's just her. She is in for a great prep. 

"There are no other words for it, but she is freakish." 

For Waller, it was an incredible tenth Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) success, having first won the race with Danleigh in 2011, while Winx delivered him four between 2016-19. 

Verry Elleegant will now continue on her planned path through the autumn and have her next start in the Gr.1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) before a third attempt at an elusive Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) win. 

However, when Saturday's meeting was in some doubt as heavy rain continued to pummel an already heavy Randwick track, Waller admitted to a few nerves as he weighed up contingency plans. 

"Obviously the All-Star Mile was there and that might have been back on the cards had they not run today and that's how things can change," he said. 

"(But it) was always the plan the Ranvet, and then the Queen Elizabeth so three weeks-three weeks. It just works out perfectly." 

Verry Elleegant started a $2.50 favourite and withstood the bid of She's Ideel ($71) with Angel Of Truth ($61) holding third, another 1-1/4 lengths away. 

Winning rider James McDonald was awestruck by the mare's ability to come back every preparation and raise the bar a little higher. 

"For her to pull out all stops at these kinds of trips is incredible," McDonald said. 

"Obviously the wet track has helped her but she's a star, she's an absolute star. I'm so lucky to be a part of it." 

Think It Over finished a brave fourth on ground that wasn't to his liking and jockey Nash Rawiller said he tried hard. 

"He just couldn't quite get there but I thought he ran as good as he ever has and has pulled up terrific," Rawiller said. 

Earlier this year, Verry Elleegant was rated the world’s best racemare according to the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, released by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.

The New Zealand-bred mare was given a rating of 123 for her win in the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington in November, putting her 15th equal in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, and the highest-rated female equine athlete in the world. 

By proven Grangewilliam Stud sire Zed, Verry Elleegant is the best of three winners out of the Danroad mare Opulence and stems from the famed Eight Carat family.

The classy mare is raced by a group that includes her breeder Don Goodwin, having originally been trained in New Zealand by Nick Bishara, who also shares in the ownership.

There are four yearlings by Verry Elleegant’s sire Zed at the forthcoming New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales, including Lot 293 a filly from a half-sister to Verry Elleegant’s dam Opulence.

Verry Elleegant Gr.1 Chipping Norton Stakes Chris Waller James McDonald Randwick Zed