A fortnight after being controversially denied a run in the Arc, Australia’s beloved mare Verry Elleegant will be given one last opportunity to make her mark in Europe when she appears on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot.
She will compete in the Group 1 Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes the following Saturday, according to trainer Francis Graffard, in the hopes of capping off a disappointing season on a positive note.
The 11-time Group 1 champion had been relocated to Europe specifically for the Arc, but she was unable to compete because her official French rating of 113, which was 7lb lower than her Australian mark, was too low to be accepted into the race, which had a full field of 20 competitors.
Graffard claimed he was “ashamed” by how the French government handled the circumstance.
The trainer said: “Verry Elleegant will go to Ascot. She was very unlucky in the way the race was run at Longchamp, where there was no tempo and she was boxed in on the rail and pulled hard. She basically didn’t have a race.
“It’s hard to see such a fantastic mare beaten like that and it’s upsetting too, but I felt that the race was over for her at the first bend when I saw where we were. Everything went against her and it’s best forgotten, but she’s come out of it well. She’s happy and she tries and hopefully things will go her way.”
Graffard will be busy on Champions Day as The Revenant is scheduled to compete in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for a record-breaking fourth time and Sweet Lady, the Prix Vermeille winner, will also line up in the Fillies & Mares.
The seven-year-old stallion took first place in the mile Group 1 in 2020 and placed second and fourth in his other two starts. After placing second in the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein on Saturday at Longchamp, he is headed to Ascot.