With only a week to go until the 2021 edition of the Lexus Melbourne Cup, we stole a few minutes from Tim Barry, one of the owners of Cup hopeful Verry Elleegant, to learn a little more about this verry talented lady.
Verry Elleegant is on target to line up at Flemington next Tuesday 2 November and try her luck in 'the race that stops a nation'.
Now, there is no shortage of articles written about the racing success of Verry Elleegant - with nine Group 1 races to her name, she's a bit of a media darling.
However, we wanted to get an insight into her personality, her early years in New Zealand, and exactly what drew Tim to her all those years ago.
Keep reading to find out a bit more about this special mare...
What is Verry Elleegant’s stable name?
Where did her name come from, with its unconventional spelling?
Don Goodwin, her breeder, named her. It was a combination of a granddaughter’s name, an Elleegant car he owned and the Verry came courtesy of Verry Flash - her brother racing in New Zealand.
How did you come to be involved with Verry Elleegant?
I played rugby with fellow owner, John Carter of Jomara Bloodstock, and am a friend of his family. We always talked about owning a horse together and Ellee just happened to be that horse.
It’s a fairly diverse group of owners, were you all friends or acquaintances prior to owning her?
No we didn’t all know each other. However, some wonderful friendships have been formed in New Zealand and Aussie through this association.
John & Mark Carter, Kevin Stocker, Brae Skoloski and myself are very close and constantly in communication. We are also partners in other horses now.
The ANZAC spirit is alive and well!
She’s by the kiwi stallion, Zed, who wasn’t really in vogue at the time you purchased her (his stud fee at the time was a mere $500), plus she is out of a mare originally bought for $5,000. What drew you to her as a racehorse prospect?
I was taken with her when she delivered an amazing turn of foot to win at Ruakaka and then in Matamata.
Following that I went to see her at Nick Bishara’s stable and although she was athletic looking with height and scope - a staying type obviously - she was rather skinny front on.
That being said - there was something about her so I bought in.
My racing confidants Russell Warwick (Westbury Stud) and Paul Willetts (Bloodstock Agent) were also supportive of my purchase.
She has a very distinctive way of galloping (some have described it as awkward!). Was there ever a moment in her early career where you wondered what you’d bought into?
Never - she didn’t always perform to our expectation and she was a handful, but she was her own worst enemy and we knew when she finally put it all together she would achieve so much.
Can you pinpoint a moment in her early career when you realised you might have something quite special?
Yes - when Ellee flew home for third in the G2 Manifold at Flemington in 2018 and then followed that up with a win in the Ethereal Stakes.
Have you had a chance to spend much time with her? What is she like as a horse? She looks to be a tough, gritty mare, but sometimes they are the sweetest ones. What attributes do you think push her ahead of the pack?