Six-time Group One-winning mare Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed) has been penalised 0.5kg for her win in the Gr.1 Caulfield Cup on Saturday, taking her weight in the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) to 55.5kg.
“Saturday’s Caulfield Cup was an outstanding edition of the 2400m handicap and it was fought out by two world class horses with Verry Elleegant strong on the line and safely holding Gr.1 Epsom Derby (2400m) winner Anthony Van Dyck,” Racing Victoria Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter said.
“Verry Elleegant carried the second highest weight for a winning mare in Caulfield Cup history behind Tranquil Star’s 56kg in 1942 and her hard-fought victory was her sixth Group One race to underline her elite standing.
“When we took into account her performance on Saturday, the relative weight to those placed behind her and her overall record, we felt that 0.5kg was the appropriate penalty which equates to a length over 3200m.
“With 55.5kgs to carry, the great Makybe Diva is the only mare to carry more weight to victory in the Melbourne Cup, having lumped 58kg to her third win in the race 2005, having carried 55.5kgs a year earlier.”
There have been 96 Caulfield Cup winners contest the Melbourne Cup and just 11 have completed the double, the last of those being New Zealand mare Ethereal 19 years ago who won the Melbourne Cup with 52kg.
Since Ethereal, 13 Caulfield Cup winners have contested the Melbourne Cup a few weeks later and not one of them has finished in the first three placegetters.
“The Caulfield-Melbourne Cup double is a significant challenge and one that has become more difficult in recent times with the growing international presence and the different paths taken by horses to the first Tuesday in November,” Carpenter said.
“Despite the outstanding performances by Verry Elleegant and runner-up Anthony Van Dyck in the Caulfield Cup, the top three in the Melbourne Cup market did not run on Saturday in Tiger Moth, Russian Camelot and Surprise Baby, neither did experienced horses like Master of Reality and Twilight Payment.
“A further 800m and a new wave of competitors await Verry Elleegant at Flemington and history says that with 55.5kg she faces a challenge to become just the 12th horse in 143 years of the Caulfield Cup to race on and win the Melbourne Cup.”
Verry Elleegant joins fellow Kiwi bred Oceanex as one of three horses ballot exempt for the Melbourne Cup to date, with Persan the other.
New Zealand breds Surprise Baby, Etah James, Miami Bound, Toffee Tongue and The Chosen One are all in the top 24 at present.