Verry Elleegant will be retired from racing if she fails again in France on Sunday
Champion mare Verry Elleegant will be retired from racing if she fails again in France on Sunday.
Owner Brae Sokolski conceded Verry Elleegant’s career is at the crossroads when she races at Longchamp in either the Group 1 Prix Vermeille (2400m) or the Group 2 Prix Foy (2400m).
“I’m apprehensive because this is D-Day,” Sokolski said. “It would be difficult to stomach if she failed again. The adventure would be over.
“If she doesn’t perform to our expectations on Sunday there is no way we would persevere. We are mindful of protecting her legacy.”
Verry Elleegant, an 11-time Group 1 winner of more than $14.8m prizemoney, was disappointing at her European debut when she ran last in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville.
There were legitimate excuses for the flop, with the race developing into a sprint home which made Verry Elleegant’s task to come from the tail of the field and win mathematically impossible. But it was still worrying she could not pass a single rival.
But Sokolski has been buoyed by French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard’s soaring confidence on the eve of Verry Elleegant’s Longchamp run.
“Francis-Henri has been particularly measured, quite circumspect about giving an opinion about the mare,” Sokolski said.
“But in the last week or so he has changed his tune, he is quite bullish about her. The run at Deauville has really brought her on.”
Sokolski revealed Graffard is still to determine the most suitable race for Verry Elleegant on Sunday.
“There is the Group 1 Prix Vermeille which attracts the best staying fillies and mares in Europe,” Sokolski said.
“Verry Elleegant has to give those top fillies plenty of weight which is a significant assignment, so we are having a think about whether that is the right race for her.
“We are also looking at the Group 2 Prix Foy over 2400m which is an open race.”
Sokolski stressed that Verry Elleegant doesn’t necessarily need to win on Sunday to show she is still on track for Europe’s most prestigious race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) at Longchamp on October 2.
Unbeaten English superstar Baaeed is early Arc favourite at $2.80 with Verry Elleegant rated at $17 in latest TAB fixed odds betting.
“We have two options, the Arc itself or a 2800m Group 1 fillies and mares on the same day,” Sokolski said.
“To win a Group 1 on Arc day would be awesome, but we will get through this weekend first. We know Verry Elleegant and we will assess whether we are happy with her performance before deciding if we keep going with her.”