Vale Verry Elleegant

19 February 2024 Written by VRC

The racing community is in mourning today after the loss of 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup champion mare Verry Elleegant, who tragically passed away due to complications while giving birth in France. 

Verry Elleegant had been residing in Europe for approximately 18 months, having travelled there for training under Francis-Henri Graffard. After retiring to become a broodmare in 2022, her owners opted for the renowned stallion Sea The Stars as her first mate. She was expected to give birth in the initial week of February.

Chairman of the VRC, Neil Wilson, extended his condolences on behalf of the Club.

“The Victoria Racing Club extends our condolences to the connections of Verry Elleegant and all of those who loved and cared for the champion mare during and after racing.

Verry Elleegant was a once-in-a-lifetime horse and a rare talent, winning Group 1 races from 1400m to two miles. Her win in the 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup was nothing short of incredible and she is immortalised in history as the winner of one of the world’s most iconic races.”

Verry Elleegant was raised and originally raced and trained in New Zealand, bred by Don Goodwin and put through her early paces by Nick Bishara before coming to Australia as a three-year-old spring filly with the VRC Oaks as her original big target.

First trained by Darren Weir, she was then transferred to the Sydney stables of another Kiwi, Chris Waller, where she would eventually develop an ironclad partnership with another New Zealander in champion jockey James McDonald.

Waller reflected on Verry Ellegant on behalf of the ownership group this morning:

"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. 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 them 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 2020-21 Australian Horse of the Year had a record of 16 wins, 11 at Group 1 level, and stake-earnings of AUD$14.8 million. 

The ATC Oaks (G1) as a three-year-old filly, a first-up win in the Winx Stakes (G1) over 1400m, adding a Turnbull Stakes (G1) and Caulfield Cup (G1) in that same preparation.

She won the Chipping Norton (G1) twice, as well as a Ranvet Stakes (G1) and a George Main Stakes (G1), culminating in an epic performance at Flemington, the crowning moment of her career.

Goodwin declared that winning ‘the race that stops a nation™’ was “the ultimate achievement.”

Goodwin sold his interest in Verry Elleegant following the decision by fellow connections to race her in Europe and target the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).

Verry Elleegant’s career came to end after four starts in Europe where her best performance was third in the Prix Foy (G2) over 2400m at Longchamp.

“Verry Elleegant made a lot of difference to a lot of lives, and she certainly changed my life and my family’s. There were so many thrills – 11 Group 1s, the Winx Stakes at 1400 metres and the Melbourne Cup at 3200m – how many horses have done that?” said Goodwin.