Melbourne Cup champion Verry Elleegant dies

Verry Elleegant, one of the great mares in the history of Australian racing, has died while giving birth to her first foal.

The 11-time Group 1 winner, whose crowning glory came in the 2021 Melbourne Cup, died in France while delivering the foal she conceived after a meeting with Sea The Stars.

The news was broken by Chris Waller, who trained the daughter of Zed and the Danroad mare Opulence to her biggest wins, which included Group 1 wins from 1400m to 3200m and the Australian Champion Racehorse title in the 2020/21 season.

“It is incredibly sad that we pass on the news on behalf of the ownership group that Verry Elleegant has passed away due to complications giving birth to her foal,” Waller said.

“The news is just filtering through to stable staff now and other close connections who are coming to terms with this tragic news.

“She was in fantastic hands on a farm who did all they could for her and we would like to thank for their efforts which we will be forever grateful for.

“We all saw the courage she had on the racetrack over many seasons and she will never be forgotten by those close to her as well as the wider racing public who followed her career and loved her so much.”

The foal also died during the birthing process.

Verry Elleegant remained in France after a two-start campaign in the second half of 2022, the curtain coming down on her racing career that generated $14,886,619 in earnings after a third placing in the Group 2 Prix Foy (2400m) at Longchamp.

That was her 40th start in a career that started in her native New Zealand, from where she was purchased and placed with Darren Weir in the spring of 2018.

After Weir’s disqualification, Verry Elleegant moved to Waller, who prepared her to win the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) and ATC Oaks (2400m) in the second half of her three-year-old season.

She won a Tancred Stakes (2400m) at the highest level as a four-year-old before taking all before her at five.

After a first-up win in the Winx Stakes (1400m), Verry Elleegant went on to win the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and Caulfield Cup (2400m) before returning in the autumn of 2021 to win the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) and Ranvet Stakes (2000m).

Verry Elleegant won the George Main Stakes (1600m) en route to Melbourne Cup success, while the final Group 1 win of her career came in the 2022 Chipping Norton Stakes, the only Group 1 race she won multiple times.

The Australian Turf Club announced earlier this year that the Chipping Norton Stakes had been renamed the Verry Elleegant Stakes with the inaugural running under that moniker to be run at Randwick on March 2.

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