Leading Melbourne jockey Mark Zahra has picked up the coveted ride of Chris Waller’s glamour mare Verry Elleegant for the 2020 Turnbull Stakes and the 2020 Caulfield Cup.
Usual rider James McDonald is based in Sydney, and may not be able to ride in the marquee spring carnival events in Melbourne due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
As a result, the Waller camp and Verry Elleegant’s connections have decided to select Mark Zahra for the rides.
Part-owner Brae Sokolski said that connections were impressed with Zahra’s soft hands, and that he would suit the horse well.
Watch: Verry Elleegant take out the Winx Stakes in impressive fashion earlier this preparation.
— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) August 22, 2020
“Zahra is not only an elite Group One jockey but we feel his soft hands will be perfectly suited to the mare who has a well-documented history of overdoing things if not ridden kindly,” Sokolski said.
Sokolski also confirmed that the mare would head to the Turnbull Stakes before the Caulfield Cup and a possible Melbourne Cup tilt, therefore bypassing the Cox Plate.
“While there is no doubt Verry Elleegant would be in the Cox Plate up to her ears, we are hellbent on preserving her longevity, recognising that while she has matured dramatically in the last 12 months, she is still not the most robust of horses,” Sokolski said.
“Trying to take on all three majors in the space of one preparation would simply not be in her best interests.”
Verry Elleegant is a $5 chance for the Turnbull Stakes, an $11 chance for the Caulfield Cup, and a $21 chance for the Melbourne Cup.