After recent events, Francis Graffard may feel as though he is due some good fortune, but his main hope for Verry Elleegant’s challenge in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (2.40) at Ascot on Saturday is that she can demonstrate her true colours to European audiences.

When it became apparent that Verry Elleegant did not have a high enough rating to make the cut for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 24 hours later, Graffard was forced to enter her in the sex-restricted Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp at the beginning of October.

Verry Elleegant finished seventh after being lit up under Mark Zahra on the inside of runners and pulling too hard. In the straight, she was blocked by a wall of horses.

Graffard, however, is convinced that the 11-time Group 1 winner can be competitive if given the green light based on what he has observed in the mornings.

“She had a rotten trip the other day in the Prix de Royallieu and it was frustrating because she is a mare with real quality and we haven’t yet seen the real Verry Elleegant in Europe,” said Graffard.

“I hope she will have no excuses on Saturday and that we can really measure her against the best fillies and mares.”

Sweet Lady: the Prix Vermeille heroine will have a rematch with runner-up Lilac Road

Verry Elleegant appeared a little uneasy on the descent into the false straight at Longchamp as when third in the Prix Foy on Arc Trials day, and connections are hoping that everything about this weekend’s race will play out better than in her three starts since joining Graffard from Chris Waller in June.

“The undulations at Longchamp weren’t ideal for her and the I think Ascot will suit her better,” said Graffard, who has booked Mickael Barzalona to ride. “She is a mare who needs to feel comfortable and more than anything a smooth run in a race with a decent rhythm.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *