Verry Elleegant triumphs in stirring dual

Saturday 27 February 2021, 6:01pm

In an epic battle that revived memories of grand galloper Octagonal, Verry Elleegant has edged out Godolphin pair Colette and Avilius in a thrilling edition of the Chipping Norton Stakes.

Less than a length separated the first five horses across the line with the Chris Waller-trained mare lifting to land her seventh Group One win.

Like Octagonal, who often won by narrow margins, Verry Elleegant scored by a half-neck and Saturday's race was the fourth time she has won a major in a photo finish.

She claimed the Caulfield Cup by a short head and her Turnbull and Winx Stakes victories by a nose.

Waller, who has now won nine of the past 11 renewals of the Chipping Norton (1600m), said Verry Elleegant's will to win was her trademark.

"She's just an unassuming girl that fights like a tiger," Waller said.

"I think it's fitting to be fought out that way because that really is the quality of Verry Elleegant.

"I thought Colette had us cold at the 300 metre mark and I saw Avilius coming with a well-timed run and she was in the middle there. She dug very deep."

Apollo Stakes winner Colette ($3.70) raced handy to the speed, set by Kolding, and mounted a strong challenge but she was unable to resist the final bid of Verry Elleegant ($2.30 fav).

Avilius ($20) ran one of his best races for some time another head away with Funstar and Kolding on the heels of the placegetters.

Stayer Master Of Wine made good ground behind the leading pack to finish sixth.

Waller said Verry Elleegant was likely to follow the same path as last autumn and head to the Ranvet and Tancred Stakes before a rematch with European visitor and defending titleholder Addeybb in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

"He was a great horse last year and he franked her form. He went back home and won on Champions day, which is such a big day in European racing," Waller said.

"It's world-class form."

When asked if those international formlines could tempt him to travel Verry Elleegant overseas, Waller said he wouldn't rule it out but struggled to find reasons to leave Australia.

"I'm not sure. We haven't had a proper discussion about it," Waller said.

"It's just so tempting to stay in Australia when we've got so many good races."


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