Not so Elleegant but still the Oaks winner
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