The $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes is the jewel in the crown of The Championships races and the likely target for Colette after her stunning return at Randwick.
The mare had never won below 1500 metres, nor first up, but neither statistic mattered as she relished the soft ground to sweep to victory in Saturday’s Group Two Apollo Stakes (1400m).
Trainer James Cummings nominated the Queen Elizabeth and Sydney Cup as potential targets for the versatile mare and jockey Rachel King echoed his sentiments, saying the sky was the limit.
“She could do anything. She could turn her hand to whatever you want and that’s where she is so great,” King said.
“You can chop and change, you can do whatever you like with her during a prep, she will do whatever you want.”
Colette ($12) snuck under the guard of punters, who rallied behind Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant to send her out a $2.50 favourite.
But it was Colette who stood stall, racing away to score by two lengths over Kolding ($4), who was again brave despite the unsuitable wet conditions.
Verry Elleegant was slow to jump and raced keenly in the run but she attacked the line to close for third.
King said she became increasingly confident in Colette’s chances as persistent rain fell at Randwick.
“When that rain came and it was pretty chopped up during the day, the rest of my runners weren’t exactly handling it and I knew she would,” King said.
Cummings was not surprised by the victory and said Colette had been working strongly at home.
He believes she has the potential to emerge as one of the new stars on the block as she continues to mature.
“She is the horse that is really improving from one prep to the next,” he said.
“She got all the way to the Oaks in one campaign and she is only first up in her third preparation so far.
“She is well and truly on her way to producing perhaps her best preparation.”
“She has been going so well she has well and truly got the Queen Elizabeth on her radar and when it gets on the radar, it’s hard to get it off.”
Chris Waller, who 20 minutes earlier won the Black Caviar Lightning in Melbourne with Nature Strip, was satisfied with the performances of his Apollo runners.
He said Verry Elleegant, Kolding and Funstar were all likely to have their next runs in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick in two weeks.
“All credit to the winner Colette. She let down beautifully and she’s a decent horse,” Waller said.
“They sprinted home in 34 (seconds) so her (Verry Elleegant’s) sectional times will be good.
“Through the line she was good, plus you’ve just got to respect she ran in the Melbourne Cup last start.”