'She is a real fighter': NZ-bred horses set to compete at Melbourne Cup

Jockey Mark Zahra celebrates aboard Verry Elleegant after winning the Caulfield Cup. Photo: Getty...
Jockey Mark Zahra celebrates aboard Verry Elleegant after winning the Caulfield Cup. Photo: Getty Images
The man who developed New Zealand's best hope in today's Melbourne Cup says there is a very good reason Verry Elleegant can win the iconic race.

Because she knows how to fight.

Former trainer Nick Bishara still shares in the ownership of the Caulfield Cup winner who, even though she is trained in Sydney these days, is more than half-owned here.

Verry Elleegant is not only New Zealand-bred but started her career here and, with expat Chris Waller training her, she is far more Kiwi than Aussie heading into today's $NZ8.23m epic.

Bishara knows Verry Elleegant, who has won nearly $8.5m in career stakes, will be taking on some of the best stayers in the world but says her courage means she can win.

"In three of her last four starts she has gotten up off the canvas to win," says Bishara.

"She is a real fighter and she has developed into a wonderful horse.

"I know those Europeans are outstanding, but we beat some of them in the Caulfield Cup so there is no reason we can't do it again."

Bishara wants to see his mare trucking up three wide with-cover starting the last 1000m and then fighting to the line. After that, what will be will be.

"It is a huge thrill just to have a real chance in a Melbourne Cup.

"Because none of us New Zealand-based owners can be there, about 40 of us including family and friends, are going to Ellerslie to enjoy the day and watch the race.

"We will be proud of her regardless but I don't know what would happen if we won because I can't have a big night, I have got horses I train racing on Wednesday and I have to take them to the race.

"But we will worry about that after the race."


Also at Ellerslie will be Mark Lupton, who part-owns and used to train Etah James, the Sydney Cup winner who loves the 3200m distance.

His mare is nowhere as favoured as Verry Elleegant but he is adamant she is peaking at the right time.

"She has had a few little things go wrong this prep but Ciaron (Maher, trainer) says she is flying in her work now," says Lupton.

"We know she will handle the 3200m and, while she won the Sydney Cup on a heavy track, her best form prior to that was on good tracks.

"Maybe she doesn't have the class of some of them, and she is an eight-year-old mare, so we are realistic but there is big money for horses that finish in the first 12 and we have a great shot at that.

"We have Yearn racing at Ellerslie so we will watch it there. I know I should pack a bag to stay the night just in case we need to celebrate but I don't want to jinx her."


Trainer Andrew Forsman says everything has gone perfectly for the sole New Zealand-trained horse in the Cup, The Chosen One.

"We are happy with him, his draw and his lead-up run in the Caulfield Cup," says Forsman, who trains the five-year-old with Murray Baker.

"He is a pretty straight forward horse and should be able to jump and put himself in a nice spot.

"Then the question will be whether he is good enough to beat the Europeans, which is the same for all of us."

Like the other Kiwi trainers with horses in the race they do, or have, trained in the past, Forsman will be at Ellerslie today with a team of five from their stable with a break to watch the Cup.


  • Verry Elleegant
  • Surprise Baby
  • The Chosen One
  • Etah James
  • Oceanex
  • Miami Bound












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