By Ray Hickson
The onus is on Addeybb, as far as champion trainer Chris Waller is concerned, to improve to beat Verry Elleegant in their highly anticipated showdown in Saturday’s Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick.
After Verry Elleegant notched her first win over the UK star, taking the score to 2-1 in Addeybb’s favour after his pair of wins in 2020, in last month’s Ranvet Stakes it gave Waller the confidence he needed ahead of what’s billed at the race of The Star Championships.
“It was great to see the Ranvet result, for us to know we can turn the tables on him,’’ Waller said.
“He’s going to lift and there’s a few others there that will jump in, including (Tancred Stakes winner) Sir Dragonet, so the scene is set for a great race.
"It’s great for Australia, as all international racing is, and we need more of the overseas horses coming here.
“Verry Elleegant is well, I like the three week gap between runs and she came through the Ranvet well.”
The track conditions, as much as the make up of the final field, will be a significant factor as it’s well known Addeybb’s wet track ability is second to none, evidenced by his runaway win in last year’s Queen Elizabeth, but he was Group 1 placed on a good track in England last June.
Addeybb and Verry Elleegant share top billing with TAB at $2.80 in all-in betting with the final field and barrier draw confirmed on Tuesday.
The five-year-old held a one length margin over the raider in the Ranvet and Waller expects that Addeybb will have improvement in him given it was his first start since October while Verry Elleegant goes into the Queen Elizabeth with three runs under her belt.
And it’s clear from Waller that he’ll have her right at the top of her game to chase a ninth career Group 1 and shore up Horse Of The Year honours with a sixth major for the season.
“Hopefully this week is straightforward, she will work in the early part of the week and back off late in the week to have her ready to go,’’ Waller said.
“It’s her grand final for her preparation, four weeks between runs last start and now it is three weeks so she should be ready to go.
“We’ve got a pretty good idea how each horse races now, and Verry Elleegant included, so we don’t have to change much.”
Meanwhile, Waller is hoping for a repeat of the hectic tempo set in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes to allow classy filly Hungry Heart her best chance to claim the Group 1 $1m The Star Australian Oaks (2400m) on Saturday.
Verry Elleegant wins the Ranvet Stakes
Despite a strong pace set by the runner-up, Hungry Heart defied an on pace pattern to run down Harmony Rose at Rosehill and on what looks likely to be a dry track Waller is confident the Frankel filly will hold her form.
“I took a lot of confidence out of that in terms of her staying ability,’’ Waller said.
“I think she likes a high pressure race, I think the shorter races she’s been running in have been lacking speed, and it was good to see some pressure on in the Vinery.
“I’m hoping a strong run Oaks will help her get into a rhythm and she’ll be strong late.”
Harmony Rose ($4) was TAB favourite on Monday ahead of Montefilia and star NZ filly Amarelinha at $5 with Hungry Heart a $6 chance.