When a spindly legged filly walked into South Auckland trainer Nick Bishara’s stable a few years ago, a future Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) winner was the furthest thing from his mind.
But that filly turned into one of the greatest mares to grace the Australasian turf, and on Tuesday she made a dream a reality for Bishara and her group of owners when she demolished her opposition in the Melbourne Cup to record her tenth Group One success.
“That just blew me away,” said an astonished Bishara.
“She put them away and I screamed my head off, she was so dominant.
“(She has won) 10 Group Ones now, how many horses win 10 Group Ones?”
Bred by Don Goodwin, Verry Elleegant did her early education with Nick Bishara in New Zealand.
While he was initially taken with her raw talent, he judged her year older full-brother, subsequent Group Three performer Verry Flash, as the better horse of the two, but he was pleased to be proven wrong.
“She showed a lot of ability, but I actually thought Verry Flash, her full-brother, was a better horse than her,” he said.
“Don (Goodwin, breeder and part-owner) has always given me a bit of shit because I had told him that Verry Flash was better than Verry Elleegant, and she has proven me wrong.”
Bishara said it didn’t take long for him to reevaluate his early judgment.
“I gave her a run and thought she broke the clock. I thought I had done something wrong with the clock and thought ‘that can’t be right’,” he said.
“I hadn’t got it wrong, she is just brilliant. She just has that turn of foot and she is just a fantastic mare.”
Upon her second win at Matatama in 2018, Verry Elleegant was sold to a syndicate of Australian and New Zealand owners, with Bishara taking a share, and she was initially trained by Victorian horseman Darren Weir before transferring to current trainer Chris Waller’s Sydney barn.
She has gone on to perform at the highest level, winning 10 Group One races, and more than A$14 million in prizemoney, and was recently crowned Australian Horse of the Year for her deeds on the track last season.
Bishara was full of praise for her expat Kiwi trainer Chris Waller as well as fellow expat jockey James McDonald.
“I am lucky to have a super trainer and a super jockey to ride the horse. I am thrilled to be involved with a professional outfit like Chris Waller’s,” Bishara said.
“Nobody keeps a horse up like Chris Waller can. He gets them right and just keeps them up and he knows when enough is enough.
“JMac (James McDonald) is a freak, he just judges his horses so well and look how that mare finished.”
Bishara said Verry Elleegant’s Kiwi pedigree also told in the race, with the New Zealand-bred staying prowess coming to fruition in the closing stages of the race.
“She is a Zed (a son of Zabeel) and she just travelled into it and there is never any doubt with Zabeel horses,” he said.
“To win a Melbourne Cup is just freakish.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Bishara was unable to be at Flemington himself, but said he enjoyed every moment of watching the race at his home in Auckland.
While ecstatic with the win, Bishara said there is plenty to look forward to in the future with the recent birth of her full sibling. – NZ Racing Desk