At Flemington racecourse in Melbourne, Darley's former Champion Australian Sire & 11-time Gr1-winning World Champion Miler Lonhro (Octagonal-Shadea, by Straight Strike) celebrated an elite race success when his 3YO Australian-bred daughter Aristia (Lonhro-Nakaaya, by Tiger Hill) showcased her staying prowess when scoring a determined win in the $1 million Gr1 VRC Oaks (2500m) for 3YO fillies, defeating Greysful Glamour & Miner's Miss. Aristia, who was purchased for $90,000 by First Light Racing, Ellerton Zahra Racing & Paul Willetts Bloodstock at the 2017 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale from the draft of Vinery Stud, improved her record to 2 wins (including the Gr2 Wakeful Stakes) and 5 placings (including the Gr3 MRC Ethereal Stakes) from 11 starts for $876,550 in earnings. "We're not known as long distance trainers but we've proved that with the right horse and the right backing we can do it," said Simon Zahra, who trains in partnership with Matthew Ellerton. "She's probably broken the mould of a Lonhro a little bit. That was my only concern [about her staying the trip] - that she was by Lonhro - but I thought she looked better after her win in the Wakeful last Saturday, she had improved...she's just a very tough filly."
At Flemington racecourse in Melbourne, Darley's former Champion Australian Sire & 11-time Gr1-winning World Champion Miler Lonhro (Octagonal-Shadea, by Straight Strike) added a Group race success when 3YO Australian-bred filly Aristia (Lonhro-Nakaaya, by Tiger Hill) opened her stakes account in the $300,000 Gr2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) for 3YO fillies, defeating Qafila & El Dorado Dreaming. Aristia, who was purchased for $90,000 by First Light Racing, Ellerton Zahra Racing & Paul Willetts Bloodstock at the 2017 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale from the draft of Vinery Stud, improved her record to 1 win and 5 placings (including the Gr3 MRC Ethereal Stakes) from 10 starts for $271,550 earnings.
At Caulfield racecourse in Melbourne, Grangewilliam Stud stallion Zed (Zabeel-Emerald Dream, by Danehill) added a Group race when 3YO New Zealand-bred filly Verry Elleegant (Zed-Opulence, by Danroad) opened her stakes account when scoring a determined 0.5 length win in the $150,000 Gr3 NZB Ethereal Stakes (2000m) for 3YO fillies, defeating Aristia & Sizzleme. Having just her second start in Australia since transferring to the Warrnambool stable of trainer Darren Weir, Verry Elleegant improved her record to 3 wins and 2 placings (including the Gr2 Edward Manifold Stakes) from 5 starts for $123,993 in earnings. Verry Elleegant, who is a direct descendant of legendary broodmare Eight Carat, is now the new $2.50 favourite for next month's VRC Oaks at Flemington. Weir said he expects Verry Elleegant to run out the 2500 metres of the Oaks. “I think you don't know until you run over the trip. I would say yes, she’ll stay, but sometimes it's not as simple as that,” Weir told racing.com. “If she doesn't win this Oaks, there are plenty of other Oaks' to look at in the autumn.”
At Morphettville racecourse in Adelaide, Darley's champion juvenile and Gr1 Blue Diamond & Gr1 Golden Slipper Stakes-winning sire Sepoy (Elusive Quality-Watchful, by Danehill) added a Group race success when 2YO Australian-bred gelding Marcel from Madrid (Sepoy-Lipari, by Redoute's Choice) maintained his perfect record when powering to a stylish win in the Gr3 National Stakes (1200m) for 2YOs, defeating Aristia & Tequila Time. Purchased for $58,000 at the 2017 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale from the draft of Widden Stud, Marcel From Madrid extended his unbeaten record to 2 wins from 2 starts for $140,540 in earnings. Co-trainer Simon Zahra said Marcel From Madrid would now be spelled and aimed at the major Group 1 3YO features in the spring. "We've always had a pretty big opinion of him and he's been touted as our best two-year-old," Zahra told racing.com. "He doesn't know a lot so we brought him over for a good trip away to hopefully grow him up for the spring." Zahra added: "He's probably a Caulfield Guineas kind of horse but it will depend on whether he can relax." Marcel Madrid is out of the stakes-placed Redoute's Choice mare Lipari, making him a half-brother to Gr1 Australian Derby winner Levendi.