New hemisphere and new trainer for champion mare

Australasia’s darling of the turf, Verry Elleegant, is heading to Europe and will join leading French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard.

VERRY ELLEEGANT
VERRY ELLEEGANT Picture: Colin Bull / Sportpix

"We know she is a world class stayer who needs 2400m+ to show her true ability, but we expect her to be weighted out of the Cups and as such there are limited options for her domestically," Verry Elleegant's ownership group said in a statement.

"After much deliberation we came to the realisation that if we want to campaign her in Europe, we need to do it properly and send her to be trained and prepared in the northern hemisphere.

"As such we wish to advise that Verry Elleegant will be transferred to the care of leading French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard and trained out of the world class facilities at Chantilly.

"Although transportation arrangements are still being finalised, she will finish her spell next week and subject to flight availability will fly out anytime from that point forward.

"Bringing her to Europe early opens up a number of new possibilities, one of which is running in the Arc, however, we will just keep an open mind on her program until deeper in her preparation with Francis."

Verry Elleegant  won 11 Group One races under Waller's care, including last year's Melbourne Cup (3200m), and the ownership group paid homage to Waller and her regular rider James McDonald.

"We would like to take this opportunity to express our enormous gratitude to Chris Waller and his team for the outstanding job they have done with Verry Elleegant," they said.

"Chris is one of the world's greatest trainers and must take a huge amount of credit in allowing her to fulfil her potential and bringing her up to her peak. preparation after preparation.

"We would also like to give particular kudos to her strapper, Rocky Mangat and track rider, Chris Harwood and of course James McDonald who won a staggering nine Group Ones aboard her, including her crowning achievement in the 2021 Melbourne Cup.

"We are incredibly excited about the journey ahead and showcasing her on the world stage. We know win, lose or draw she will do us, Australia and of course New Zealand proud."

Waller paid tribute to his champion mare, who won him his first Melbourne Cup.

"It has been an honour to have trained Verry Elleegant for a major part of her career. She has given us so many great thrills over a number of years and we are very proud of her," Waller said.

"My team around Australia are all responsible for her success and longevity which I thank them for and wish the owners all the very best in her Northern Hemisphere race campaign."

The daughter of Grangewilliam Stud stallion Zed was originally trained in New Zealand by part-owner Nick Bishara, for whom she won two of her three starts before her partial sale and move to Australia.

She has subsequently won a further 14 races, including 11 at Group One level, with nearly A$15 million in earnings.

Not all of the owners of Verry Elleegant were keen to see her follow in the footsteps of fellow New Zealand-bred gallopers So You Think and Starcraft by racing in Europe.

Breeder Don Goodwin and the fellow original owners of Verry Elleegant are to sell their 20 percent share in the champion mare following confirmation she is to be transferred to France to be prepared for a European campaign.

"We're not happy and we will be looking to sell out of the mare unfortunately," Nick Bishara told Racing.com.

"The Ellee syndicate was never in favour of going to Europe, basically on the back of what Chris (Waller) felt - that she's probably got one more prep in her and to go half way around the world might be a risk if she doesn't come up.

"The 80 percent of the syndicate wanted to go but the 20 percent (Ellee) of the syndicate didn't want to go.

"Don (Goodwin) bred her and we originally had her. We wanted to put the horse first. Chris Waller is a Hall Of Fame trainer and we were happy to go with what he thought."
NZ Racing News