The world’s highest rated horse Addeybb returns to take on Australia’s 8-time Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant and Ladbrokes Cox Plate victor Sir Dragonet in the Group 1 AUD$4 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick Racecourse on Saturday.
The clash of the racing giants is the feature race on Day 2 of The Championships at the Sydney racetrack, on Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day, with four Group 1 races on the programme.
Addeybb, trained in England by William Haggas, will bid to successfully defend his crown from last year’s Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes, when beating one of his main challenger on Saturday, Verry Elleegant, into second place. The two have clashed on three occasions with the European-trained gelding holding a 2-1 advantage.
The Chris Waller-handled five-year-old mare Verry Elleegant defeated Addeybb by a length when the pair last clashed in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m).
Verry Elleegant is the mount of James McDonald, while seven-year-old Addeybb will be partnered by British raider Tom Marquand, who has based himself in Australia in recent weeks.
The former Aidan O’Brien-trained five-year-old Sir Dragonet, winner last time out of the KIA Tancred Stakes (2400m) for conditioners Ciaron Maher and David Eustace may pose a serious danger to the top two in the betting market. The son of Coolmore stallion Camelot will be partnered by Glen Boss.
Sir Dragonet’s jockey Glen Boss is confident about his horse’s chances in the richest race of the Sydney Autumn Carnival:
“If anyone wants to go and spend 10 minutes and have a look at this bloke’s pedigree, that’s enough to sway you. He’s probably got one of the best pedigrees of any European that’s come to Australia.You’ve just got to go back and look at it, and you just get in shock of how much of a good pedigree he’s got.”
Boss, who will break from stall two aboard Sir Dragonet for the 2040m race, continued:
“He is not a slow, cumbersome staying type, either. I rode him work the other day and the horse is going super. Verry Elleegant, Addeybb, they are all flying, all meeting at a great distance on a great track – it’s going to be some race.’’
Last Saturday’s Tancred Stakes success for Sir Dragonet was the fourth win of his 15-start career and his second at Group 1 level. While trained at Ballydoyle Stables in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, he won the Group 3 Chester Vase in England, was runner-up in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh, Ireland, and finished fourth in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster, England.
The All-Star Mile winner Mugatoo, trained by Kris Less and ridden by Hugh Bowman is another Group 1 winner who will contend. Think It Over, winner of the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes last month is in the line-up while Dalasan, third in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile last weekend, will back up for Adelaide trainers Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas in the quality 7-horse contest.
It has been confirmed that Addeybb, who will break from gate three, will have blinkers applied for the first time, with his rider explaining:
“That’s something he’s never had on before, but I think it’s probably about time. He’s had cheek pieces (winkers) on for the last three or four years, so it’s not like they’re going to be a big shock to the system or anything for him. He’s not going to suddenly grow a spectacular pair of wings and do something that he’s never done before, but it might just help in the run, help him travel and put a bit of a spark back into him.”
James McDonald, who will rider Verry Elleegant from gate four, is confident the New Zealand-born mare can beat Addeybb for the second time in succession:
“She worked really well on Tuesday and felt terrific. It will take a pretty good horse to beat her. She is going into the race in really good form, I am rapt with her,” McDonald said.
It may be a small field of runners, with just seven horses, but they have multiple Group 1 successes between them and have won in excess of AUD$24million in total prize-money. The race should not disappoint.
Photo: Courtesy of Australian TV Channel 7 Twitter account (@7horseracing)
Feature by : Breandán Ó hUallacháin