Plotting Out the Next Six Months for Verry Elleegant

Plotting Out the Next Six Months for Verry Elleegant

It’s fair to tag Chris Waller’s recent pronouncements on Verry Elleegant as “interesting”. The trainer released a statement on Twitter, detailing how he sees the rest of 2022 panning out for the Melbourne Cup winner. The statement, however, contained a lot of ifs, buts and maybes.

As one of the most prominent horses to appear in the last few years, the decisions around Verry Elleegant’s season matter a lot to Australian group racing, so it’s going to be interesting to see what Waller (and the owners) decide to do.

What we do know for sure is that Verry Elleegant is going on a break first. The mare did not look at her best in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes last month, and Waller has suggested that some respite might be in order.

 

Waller laid out (some) of his plans

As reported here, he is looking at three races in Australia to kickstart the mare’s spring campaign, citing the Winx Stakes (August), Chelmsford Stakes (September), Kingston Town Stakes (September), and the Underwood Stakes (September) as the possibilities.

Obviously, Waller and connections will have to choose three out of the four (or add another event to the mix), but it’s after that point that things get interesting. As Waller said in his statement, these races come “prior to a decision being made on a Melbourne Cup defence, or a trip to Europe.”.

 

 

Basically, then, you are talking about late September when a decision must be made. As we know, when Waller refers to “Europe”, he means Champions Day at Ascot on 15th October, with an entry in the Fillies and Mares Stakes. The planned trip to Longchamps for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2nd October) was too soon in Waller’s eyes. The 2022 Melbourne Cup is on 1st November. It’s most certainly an either-or scenario.

 

 

It is difficult, however, to glean what Waller will be looking for in the spring preparatory runs “prior” to making that decision. Should Verry Elleegant start the spring campaign with a bang, would that mean the Melbourne Cup is more likely, with the date at Ascot being put aside for another year (if ever)? You’d have to think so.

 

No comparison in prize money

While the Fillies and Mares Stakes is a Group 1 race with plenty of prestige, it’s not on the level of the Melbourne Cup. Perhaps more importantly, there is the prize money: the total purse for the Fillies and Mares Stakes comes in at around $AUD 950,000, around 1/6th of what’s on offer for the big one at Flemington Park.

 

 

Still, it’s a huge decision. On the one hand, Waller seems enthusiastic about appearing at one of the most prestigious and storied events in British racing. Champions Day at Ascot tends to herald the end of the flat season in the UK, and it features all the pomp and ceremony that the famous racecourse with its royal connections is renowned for.

And yet, the Australian racing public loves to see a returning champion return for a crack at the big prize, and everyone will want to see Verry Elleegant have a tilt at becoming a two-time champion regardless of her form. For Waller, it’s a huge decision. And it’s a big one for Australian racing.