Chris Waller said he has taken lessons learned with four-time Cox Plate champion Winx to help formulate a spring campaign for Verry Elleegant to peak in the $5 million race on Saturday.
The Caulfield Cup had always loomed as a suitable option this spring for the Group 1 Australian Oaks winner. However Waller said from The Valley’s Breakfast With The Best gallops on Tuesday that he opted to switch focus to a Cox Plate with Winx’s spring four-year-old season in mind.
“Obviously, through having the success with Winx and that story, that gives you a bit of confidence,” Waller said.
“We only gave her (Winx) three runs in her four-year-old year and I think it was the making of her.
“Winx went to Queensland and Verry Elleegant didn’t so she’s had the extra run but I just didn’t want to go too far and I think that will see her run this year but next year as well.
“I think she’s better with three weeks between runs and I think the Caulfield Cup is a really hard race on young horses. I am not saying the Cox Plate is not, but that 400 metres less distance is a big factor.
“I have taken similar horses to a Caulfield Cup and they have struggled to find their best form again.”
Waller said he was not concerned that the one-time flighty filly would be exposed to the sometimes overwhelming atmosphere of Cox Plate day, especially after adding ear muffs to her gears this preparation.
“She seems pretty good nowadays,” he said. “We put the ear muffs on early days to make sure she didn’t stress and get carried away with the atmosphere but she’s been to all the big dances.
“She was there on that sell-out day at Randwick on Queen Elizabeth (Stakes) day last year when she won the (ATC) Oaks and she didn’t turn a hair.
“She’s been good this time and she’s been to The Valley twice and I think she’s maturing well.”
Waller said the fact he’s won the past four Cox Plate’s would not diminish the excitement of a fifth if either Verry Elleegant or his Turnbull Stakes winner Kings Will Dream salutes on Saturday.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to that level to eclipse what Winx did because that was just mind-blowing. But we’ll certainly have plenty of thrills in between, if we can get back there.
“So, to win the race that Winx made her own over the past four years would be very special with any horse whether it be this year or in 20 years’ time.” – Racing.com