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Horse racing: Kiwi star unsuited by slow pace in European debut – NZ Herald

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Horse racing Verry Elleegant racing in the Melbourne Cup 02 November 2021. Photo / Bruno Cannatelli.

Superstar Kiwi mare Verry Elleegant is expected to press on to Longchamp and her preferred 2400-metre trip following “an incredibly frustrating” European debut in France.

Part-owner Brae Sokolski was left lamenting the startling lack of any speed in the first half of the Prix Jean Romanet (2000m) at Deauville, where Verry Elleegant settled last of the seven runners for rider Frankie Dettori and ultimately failed to get by another horse in the run home.

“We [Australian racing] are notorious for our supposed lack of tempo in staying races and then we finally get to Europe and we effectively had no opportunity to run well,” Sokolski said.

“It was a trot and canter. They got into their positions and they stayed there.”

The first half of the 2000m race was more than eight seconds slower than its second half, so last-placed Verry Elleegant had little chance of outsprinting her six rivals.

But, Sokolski said, there were some causes for concern.

“Mathematically, she couldn’t win after they’d gone halfway and I would argue that mathematically, she couldn’t even run a place off that pace, but I still would have expected a horse of her calibre in that field to pick up a couple on the line,” he said.

“But she didn’t. She was okay through the line but what is okay for any other horse, is not okay for a champion stayer we know she is. She is definitely looking for further ground and a proper staying test.”

Connections are hopeful that will come in three weeks when Verry Elleegant steps out in the G1 Prix Vermeille (2400m) on September 11 at Longchamp in Paris.

It will be her first run at 2400m or beyond since her crushing Melbourne Cup win last November. She has raced at 2400m and beyond six times for wins in the Melbourne Cup (3200m), Caulfield Cup (2400m), Tancred Stakes (2400m) and ATC Oaks (2400m).

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