The handicapper will determine whether Verry Elleegant gets a chance to deliver trainer Chris Waller his first Melbourne Cup but there is little doubt the mare is set for an outstanding spring.
Verry Elleegant made a spectacular return at Randwick on Saturday to beat a high-class field in the Winx Stakes (1400m), overcoming a wide run to deny Star Of The Seas in a Waller quinella.
The champion trainer has his sights on the spring majors for Verry Elleegant but will only pursue a Melbourne Cup start if her weight is right.
“I think we have the right horse for the Melbourne Cup but if the weights ‘kill’ us we will go to the Cox Plate,” Waller said.
“She hasn’t changed her physique but mentally she is coping so much better with her racing.
“She puts so much into her races and I think that might have disadvantaged her a bit in the early days.
“She would show a bit of stress and negative body language but now she has the confidence in herself and it is showing in her racing.”
From a midfield draw, James McDonald was happy to track a wide course on Verry Elleegant ($7.50) and bank on her ability to sustain a long run to the line.
When he let her loose in the straight, she ranged up to the leading group and kicked strongly when challenged by stablemate Star Of The Seas ($31), who was beaten a half-head for his third Group One placing.
“I thought he had it but Verry Elleegant stole the show, as Winx did with (stablemate) Foxplay one year,” Waller said.
Fierce Impact ($15) made a good return another half-neck back with the Waller-trained Imaging finishing hard for fourth.
“Her forte is her long, sustained sprint and it wasn’t stopping today. It got stronger as the race went on,” McDonald said.
“For a horse that is a mile-and-a-half horse and being set for a Melbourne Cup, it’s just incredible.
“She would have to be the toughest mare I’ve ever had anything to do with.”
Master Of Wine started an equal favourite but never threatened and jockey Tommy Berry said he was racing more like a genuine stayer.
“Second-up last preparation he went to 2000 from 1400 (metres) and that’s what he felt like he needed today,” Berry said.
Verry Elleegant gave Waller his sixth win in the race, formerly known as the Warwick Stakes before it was renamed after the trainer’s champion Winx who won it three years in a row from 2016.