04 October 2022

Aussie superstar Verry Elleegant gets green light for Ascot

04 October 2022

Verry Elleegant will bid to get her career back on track on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot next week.

Last year’s Melbourne Cup heroine is an 11-time winner at the highest level Down Under, but has so far failed to replicate that form on European soil.

The seven-year-old was disappointing on her first start for leading French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville, but did improve to finish third in the Prix Foy.

However, with her rating having fallen to such a level that she was set to miss the cut for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, she instead lined up in the Qatar Prix de Royallieu on Saturday and was beaten just under five lengths into seventh place.

Graffard feels circumstances conspired against Verry Elleegant in Paris and remains hopeful she can show her true colours in the Qipco British Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes.

“Verry Elleegant will come to Ascot. She was very unlucky in the way the race was run at Longchamp, where there was no tempo and she was boxed in on the rail and pulled hard. She basically didn’t have a race,” said the trainer.

“It’s hard to see such a fantastic mare beaten like that and it’s upsetting too, but I felt that the race was over for her at the first bend when I saw where we were.

“Everything went against her and it’s best forgotten, but she’s come out of it well. She’s happy and she tries, and hopefully things will go her way on British Champions Day.”

Graffard is also planning to saddle Sweet Lady in the same Group One contest at the Berkshire track. The Lope De Vega filly has been kept fresh since winning the Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp last month.

He added: “Sweet Lady will also run and she’s in top form. We decided to avoid Arc weekend and focus on the Fillies And Mares.”

The trainer confirmed last year’s Qipco Champion Stakes winner Sealiway will not defend his crown following a lacklustre effort in the Arc, but he will be send his 2020 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes victor The Revenant back to Ascot.

The latter, who was second to King Of Change in the 2019 QEII and fourth to Baaeed last year, appears to retain all of his ability judged on his runner-up finish to Erevann in Saturday’s Prix Daniel Wildenstein – a race he won in 2019 and 2020 and also finished second in 12 months ago.

Graffard said: “He’s in top form and has come out of Saturday’s race very well.

“He seems to be as enthusiastic as ever and he has always run well on Champions Day. The softer the ground the better for him.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox