By Nicholas Godfrey
Rosehill Gardens (March 20): Ranvet Stakes G1 A$700,000 (£387,000), 1m2f, turf, 3yo+
Verry Elleegant (Chris Waller/James McDonald)
Having been passed fit to run by the vet only on the morning of the race after a lameness scare, Addeybb’s latest Australian sojourn began with a valiant defeat at the hands of arch-rival Verry Elleegant in a thrilling battle on the Golden Slipper undercard.
“She’s a world-class mare,” said trainer Chris Waller, while jockey James McDonald added “She’s a beauty” as the supermare recorded her eighth G1 success, having been twice beaten by Addeybb last year in Sydney – in this race and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick, where the pair will meet again in three weeks’ time.
Sent off 11-10 favourite, the Champion Stakes winner challenged stubborn front-runner Angel Of Truth as they entered the straight before Verry Elleegant joined the battle in the Ranvet, one of five G1s on the card at Rosehill.
As good as she is, Verry Elleegant – mentioned in dispatches as an Arc possible – also had a mares’ allowance and benefited from a race-fitness edge. She looked to be travelling much more easily than her rival, only for a fierce battle to develop in the straight before the dogged Addeybb gave best by a length.
It was a result that satisfied both sets of connections – but Addeybb’s trainer William Haggas was one the scoresheet 80 minutes earlier when Favorite Moon won the G3 Manion Cup.
Shall we talk about it?
Chris Waller (Verry Elleegant’s trainer): “She’s a great horse and it’s always hard to gauge when you’re running against horses from the other side of the world who has been flying the flag up there so proudly and beating some good horses. Well done to Mr. Haggas for sending him down because it’s not an easy feat.
“She’s won a Caulfield Cup with international form and she’s brought it to Rosehill too. James didn’t pull the trigger as early this year, but when he went she quickened and he started coming back. So I was thinking ‘oh it’s on again’ but gee she was tough the last 100m as she was in the Caulfield Cup, as she’s been in so many of her races. She’s a world-class horse.”
James McDonald (Verry Elleegant’s jockey): “She’s a beauty. I haven’t had that much fun on a racecourse for a very long time. It was so much fun. She travelled a little bit stronger than I wanted to but the pace was just nice. Then when I got off at the 600m I said ‘he’s going to have to be good today’.
“She’s just a wonderful mare, great determination, fantastic will to win and she knows where that winning line is. She’s just a mighty mare. She’s amazing, she just keeps coming back every prep. She seems to get faster every time, in terms of she can win over seven and she can win over a mile and a half.”
Tom Marquand (Addeybb’s jockey): “Delighted with the run. As we kept saying before, if we bump into her at her best it’s going to be tough to beat her. He gave his all. This was always going to be a run up to a bigger day and he put his heart and soul into it.”
Manion Cup: Favorite Moon on the mark for Haggas team
Rosehill Gardens: N E Manion Cup G3 hcap A$160,000 (£90,000), 1m4f, turf, 3yo+
Favorite Moon (William Haggas/Kerrin McEvoy)
Addeybb’s travelling companion Favorite Moon travelled handily behind the pace before reeling in the leader in the straight and then holding the late challenge of Realm Of Flowers by a neck.
Mind you, if there is such a thing as being too well handicapped, this might be it. Not only could Tom Marquand not do the weight – hence Kerrin McEvoy – but this progressive stayer will need a penalty to get in the field for the G1 Sydney Cup over a 2m trip that would suit him even better.
Isabella Paul (representing trainer William Haggas): “I think he’s really coming into his own down here, the kind of one-on-one attention and everything has really suited him.”
‘I can’t believe it!’ – first G1 win for Annabel Neasham with Mo’Unga in Rosehill Guineas
Rosehill Gardens: Rosehill Guineas G1 A$600,000 (£334,000), 1m, turf, 3yo
Mo’unga (Annabel Neasham/Tommy Berry)
‘I can’t believe it!’ That was the reaction of British expat trainer Annabel Neasham recorded a milestone victory with her maiden G1 success in her first season with a licence as 29-10 favourite Mo’Unga, who came from well back to challenge eight wide down the middle of the track.
Neasham, from Croughton in Northamptonshire. worked for Gai Waterhouse and Ciaron Maher before setting up on her own in August at Warwick Farm in Sydney.
“Obviously you always dream of these moments and winning these races – incredible horse!,” added Neasham, who also thanked Maher, whom she described as her mentor.
Annabel Neasham (trainer): “I can’t believe it I’m a bit speechless to be honest. I was a bit worried in the run – he’s always a horse that is sort of midfield. I thought he might end up a pair further forward than he was, and I was worried that he was spotting the leader way too far. He knew what he was sitting on but that straight took a long time to watch. Unbelievable!”
Rosehill Gardens: Golden Slipper G1 A$3.5m (£1.95m), 6f, turf, 2yo
Stay Inside (Richard & Michael Freedman/Tommy Berry)
After landing the Rosehill Guineas on Mo’Unga, jockey Tommy Berry completed a memorable G1 double as he captured the world’s richest two-year-old race for the third time with Stay Inside.
Godolphin’s Anamoe made mighty strides from miles back to be beaten a length and three-quarters but was never getting to a winner who shot clear inside the final furlong.
Stay Inside represents the training partnership of Richard and Michael Freedman, whose older brother Lee won four consecutive Slippers in the 1990s.