20 August 2022

Dettori eager to see what Verry Elleegant can do

20 August 2022

Frankie Dettori admits he is curious to see how Verry Elleegant fares as she dips her toe into European racing for the first time at Deauville on Sunday.

A superstar in Australia, the seven-year-old has banked 11 Group One wins, including the 2020 Caulfield Cup and last year’s Melbourne Cup, when she easily accounted for hot favourite Incentivise by four lengths over two miles having previously done all her winning up to 12 furlongs.

Transferred from Chris Waller’s yard to the French team of Francis-Henri Graffard for a planned Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe challenge, Verry Elleegant will make her debut in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet over 10 furlongs with Dettori teaming up with her for the first time.

He told Racing.com: “I’m looking forward to it. It will be a new experience for her on the other side of the world. She’s had a bit of a break so we’d expect her to come on for the race, I’m very excited.

“As you know, I’ve never won the Melbourne Cup, so to ride the winner of the Melbourne Cup is quite a good thing.

“It’s not a huge field like you get for the Melbourne Cup, there’s only nine runners. I managed to speak to (previous riders) Mark Zahra and I will talk to James (McDonald), but the most important thing is just to keep her quiet the first part of the race and make the finish.

“It is her comeback race and obviously her long (range) target is the Arc, so it’s the first step forward to get to that.”

Dettori is eager to see how Verry Elleegant performs before looking to any future targets.

He added: “At the moment (I don’t have an Arc ride booked), but let’s take it one step at a time. First of all I’m looking forward to riding her on Sunday, let’s see how she does and we’ll make plans after that.”

While plenty of Australian sprinters have made successful forays to Europe, only a handful of horses have tried to do the same over longer trips, with So You Think and Starcraft two who successfully made their mark in the past.

When asked how Australian middle-distance form would stack up in Europe, Dettori replied: “That’s the million dollar question.

“When you look back at the Caulfield Cup, she beat the Derby winner Anthony Van Dyke, so if you can match that form that’s pretty decent. She’s taking on just fillies on Sunday so that makes life a little bit easier but we’ll see, I’m as curious as you guys are Down Under.”

Verry Elleegant is one of nine declared for the Romanet, with Graffard also fielding Ebaiyra, who finished third to German star Sammarco last time out.

Richard Hannon sends Aristia while Sir Michael Stoute fields Ville De Grace and Paddy Twomey runs prolific winner Rosscarbery.

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