Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Chris Waller has made the extraordinary admission that he didn’t want to run Verry Elleegant and stewed over the call until the last possible moment.
The greatly respected trainer, who watched the race from his Sydney home to avoid a five-day isolation upon returning from Melbourne, had set October’s Cox Plate as the top priority for the mighty mare’s spring. He had been extremely wary of overtaxing the horse by committing to the Melbourne Cup, too.
But after Verry Elleegant stormed home to win the 161st edition of The Great Race, surging past raging favourite Incentivise with 200 metres to go and collecting the $7,750,000 crown, Waller is ecstatic with his decision to enter the horse in the race.
The 48-year-old had gone excruciatingly close to forgoing that incredible moment.
“I just didn’t want to run her,” Waller told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“But I couldn’t find a reason not to – it’s as simple as that. I think it was 3:30pm on Saturday (that we had to make the call).”
The triumph marks the first Melbourne Cup win for both Waller and jockey James McDonald, who executed a brilliant ride on the six-year-old mare.
Verry Elleegant storms to Melbourne Cup victory
Verry Elleegant has become the first horse to win a Melbourne Cup from the once-cursed barrier 18, as well as the first of her sex to win the iconic event since Makybe Diva won three on the trot between 2003 and 2005.
“It’s probably as good as it gets,” Waller said.
“The kids were pretty excited. They were more excited than me. It hasn’t sunk in.”
Waller’s Melbourne assistant, Jo Taylor, gave him a shout-out following the Cup victory.
READ MORE: Melbourne Cup 2021 full finishing order
“I really wish Chris could have been here,” Taylor said on Channel 10.
“COVID has been a cruel thing to him.
“I would say he’s just as elated just by having those victories and by watching (McDonald’s) reaction.
“I think it just shows you how special this race is.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!