BIG GUNS WILL NEED TO FIRE
MASTER trainer Chris Waller feels the last-start defeats of his star mare Verry Elleegant and key rival Zaaki have made the Cox Plate a very even contest.
“It was a shame that Zaaki and Verry Elleegant got beaten last start because it looked like it was a race clash of years gone by,” Waller (pictured) said.
“Whether that be a Winx and Hartnell or many of the other great horses.
“It was a shame that both horses (Verry Elleegant and Zaaki) put in a flat run.
“There’s others there now that have made the Cox Plate a very even race.”
$2.90 Cox Plate favouritism with
TAB and Verry
Elleegant is at $5, separated in betting by Godolphin’s star three-year-old and Caulfield Guineas winner Anamoe at $4.
Bookmakers are giving outsiders Dalasan and Callsign Mav very little hope, but every other contender in the 10-horse contest has been kept relatively safe in betting.
It is a vastly different scenario to when the mighty Winx completely dominated the betting boards in the last three of her four consecutive Cox Plate wins.
With nine Group 1s to her name, it would be a fool who would write off Verry Elleegant after her unplaced effort behind star galloper Incentivise in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington earlier this month.
And that’s especially the case when you consider there was an excuse, of sorts.
While nothing turned up immediately post-race, in the days afterwards Waller’s vet Dr Tim Roberts discovered the mare’s blood work was not quite as it should be. Verry Elleegant’s appetite had also dipped.
It was only a relatively minor issue, which was remedied naturally
with vitamins and minerals.
H o w e v e r , Waller went back through his records and discovered Verry Elleegant’s appetite was also reduced after arriving for the Melbourne spring in years past.
“We went back and looked at our records for the last two years when she has previously been down there and each time her appetite has backed off a little bit,” Waller said.
“But she managed to get away with it last year in the
Turnbull, where she won, but in hindsight she wasn’t impressive.
“Then she rebounded off that and won a Caulfield Cup, so we didn’t really look into it too much at the time.
“The good news is her work last Saturday morning was pretty good and we took the ear muffs off at the Valley on Tuesday morning and let her get close to what she wears raceday.
“Damian Lane said she was a completely different horse compared to the Turnbull.”
Waller said there had not been any panic with Verry
Elleegant since the Turnbull when she finished 3½ lengths off Incentivise.
Given the blood work issue has been sorted, Waller is approaching the Cox Plate with increasing optimism.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday with a little bit more confidence, but I’m always a little bit cautious after a great horse like her puts in a flat run,” Waller said.
“Is she a champion? Everyone has got their own opinions on that. I just think she has been a great horse over a few years now and that separates her from some other Group 1 winners.”