Not so Ellee­gant but still the Oaks win­ner

Sunday Mail - - SPORT - GLENN MCFARLANE MEL­BOURNE

DAR­REN Weir is con­fi­dent eas­ing Oaks favourite Verry Ellee­gant can still win Thurs­day’s $1 mil­lion Group 1 race, de­spite fin­ish­ing fifth to im­pres­sive Aris­tia in the Group 2 Wake­ful Stakes at Flem­ing­ton yes­ter­day.

In a race where the on-pac­ers had the edge, Verry Ellee­gant was trapped out wide and was not suited by the slow pace.

But she tracked home into the race and fin­ished about four lengths from the win­ner.

Weir said the race hadn’t panned out the way his filly wanted, but con­firmed she would push on to the Oaks, for which she eased from $2.30 to $3.20. Off the back of Aris­tia’s strong win yes­ter­day – when she broke her maiden sta­tus – the Mathew Eller­ton-Si­mon Zahra­trained filly firmed from $6 to a $3.60 Oaks sec­ond elect.

“She’s a hard horse to ride,” Weir said of Verry Ellee­gant. “It was im­pos­si­ble to make up ground.”

Her jockey, John Allen, said his mount had been “a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing, but she jumped out of the gates and switched off a lit­tle bet­ter to­day’’.

“It was a hard race to make any ground, but it’s on to the Oaks now,” he said.

Verry Ellee­gant cov­ered the last 200m in 11.84, the third fastest of the race.

Aris­tia, a daugh­ter of Lonhro, had al­ways shown early stay­ing po­ten­tial, with Zahra say­ing the own­ers had been ex­tremely pa­tient, be­liev­ing the fur­ther the bet­ter.

“We aimed at the Thou­sand Guineas a long way out, but it looked like in her track­work she would love a bit more ground” Zahra said.

He praised Damian Lane’s ride on Aris­tia, de­scrib­ing it as “un­be­liev­able”.

Aris­tia ($6.50) re­pelled the fast-fin­ish­ing Qafila ($9), with El Do­rado Dream­ing ($5) a solid third.

Kris Lees said El Do­rado Dream­ing would not push on to the Oaks, while David Hayes would wait to see how Qafila pulled up be­fore lock­ing her into a start, af­ter she firmed from $26 into $5 for the ma­jor stay­ing test.

Hayes said Qafila “was the best fin­isher and had a re­ally good run”.

TOP OAKS TRIAL: Damian Lane guides Aris­tia home in yes­ter­day’s Wake­ful Stakes, from Qafila ($9) and El Do­rado Dream­ing.

CON­FI­DENT: Dar­ren Weir

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