By Ray Hickson
It’s the clash we’ve all been waiting for and trainer Chris Waller is as keen as anyone to see Verry Elleegant have her chance to square the leger with star UK galloper Addeybb.
And the wait is only a few days away for Australia’s best horse to improve on her 0-2 record against Addeybb, currently rated the world’s best horse in training.
There was half a length between the pair when they first met in last year’s Group 1 $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) while a few weeks later Addeybb held an almost three length margin in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).
The 2020 version was a dead set two horse war virtually from the start as James McDonald sat Verry Elleegant on Addeybb’s quarters and attacked from the 600m but the UK raider, under urgings from Tom Marquand, repelled the challenge.
Waller said Verry Elleegant, a gutsy last start Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) winner, will be a tougher horse for Addeybb to fight off in Saturday’s Ranvet Stakes renewal.
“She’s come back well and you could see last start how tough she is,’’ Waller said.
“She’s up for a fight and I’m looking forward to it.
“(In the Ranvet last year) we headed him and he fought back. I reckon if he goes to try and fight back this year there might be something there.”
Verry Elleegant runs second to Addeybb in the 2020 Ranvet Stakes
Those are fighting words from Waller.
He doesn’t have a Winx-level of confidence, of course, but what Verry Elleegant has achieved in the last 12 months is more than enough to be somewhat bullish.
The five-year-old has raced seven times since the Queen Elizabeth for four Group 1 wins – the Winx Stakes, Turnbull Stakes, Caulfield Cup and Chipping Norton.
In Addeybb’s three runs since then he’s recorded a Group 1 second, a Listed win and a Group 1 win in the Champions Stakes at Ascot in October.
“It’s great to see him go back to the other side of the world and perform at Group 1 level,’’ Waller said.
“She’s come out and won a Caulfield Cup against good Irish and English form. It’s easy to see her ratings deserve to be up among the best horses.”
With the Rosehill track rated heavy 8 on Monday following the weekend rain, which will be welcomed by the visitor's trainer William Haggas, Addeybb was $2.00 favourite ahead of Verry Elleegant ($2.50) in TAB's all-in market.
Ratings and reputations say both horses are better than they were last autumn – Waller’s perspective on Verry Elleegant is that, in her, it has come from strength not an increase in ability.
“She’s stronger than she was last year, the proof is when they race,’’ he said.
“There’s no indication we could see that she’s better but she’s stronger, she’s simply stronger.
“Her winning ability looks to have gone to a new level but she dead set fights like she hasn’t before. She’s a remarkable horse.”