McDonald ready for round two

Verry Elleegant

Leading Sydney jockey James McDonald can’t wait to hop back aboard Verry Elleegant and act out their revenge against Addeybb in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday.

The pair finished second to the European import in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and Queen Elizabeth last year, and while Verry Elleegant was able to reverse the tables when winning the Ranvet Stakes last month, McDonald is keen to complete the set and even the scores this weekend.

“Addeybb has beaten her twice, but I think we can level up this weekend,” McDonald told Racing HQ.

“I thought it was going to happen all over again (getting run down by Addeybb), but she pulled out all the stops, and hopefully it will work out the same this weekend.

“I am looking forward to it. She worked really well on Tuesday and felt terrific. It will take a pretty good horse to beat her. She is going into the race in really good form, I am rapt with her.”

McDonald said the Chris Waller-trained mare’s traits make her ideally suited to Saturday’s 2000m test.

“Anywhere from 10 furlongs (2000m) to a mile and a half (2400m) (is her best distance),” McDonald said.

“She is such a good 10-furlong horse with her sustained speed, turn of foot, and being very adaptable.”

The Randwick track is currently a Soft5, with drying conditions later in the week, but McDonald has no reason to doubt Verry Elleegant’s ability on a firmer surface.

“I am happy with the conditions that will be thrown at her,” McDonald said.

“She is a very adaptable mare and she is going into the race in career best form.”

A number of her ownership group hold ambitions of campaigning the daughter of Zed in Europe, highlighted by a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m), and McDonald believes she would be more than competitive over there.

“She has done us all proud here so far and whatever gets thrown at her she seems to cop,” he said.

“I have no doubt that if they decide to travel with her, she will be very competitive over there. She is running against one of the best horses in Europe anyway.”

Verry Elleegant was initially trained in New Zealand by part-owner Nicholas Bishara, for whom she won two of her three races, and finished runner-up in her other start.

She has gone from strength-to-strength in Australia, posting 11 further victories, including eight at Group One level.

Verry Elleegant is the +150 favourite for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, ahead of Addeybb (+180) and Sir Dragonet (+550).

Should the New Zealand-bred and predominantly owned five-year-old salute on Saturday, her career earnings will surpass A$10 million, not a bad return for connections which include her breeder Don Goodwin.

Auckland-based Goodwin purchased Verry Elleegant’s dam Opulence for just $14,000 and sent her to Zed, a Zabeel stallion whom Goodwin raced and still part-owns, who stood for an advertised service fee of $4,000 at the time.

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