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James McDonald needs Verry Elleegant to be on her best behaviour when she runs in the Cox Plate

Jockey James McDonald needs Verry Elleegant to be on her best behaviour when she runs at The Valley for the first time in the Cox Plate.

And after galloping her twice at the track, McDonald is confident she is in the right frame of mind.

Trainer Chris Waller is chasing a fifth straight Cox Plate with Kings Will Dream joining the mare in Saturday’s $5 million Cox Plate over 2040m won four times by Winx.

McDonald made a trip from Sydney last week to partner Verry Elleegant in a crucial first work-out at The Valley and was again aboard on Tuesday.

Following that initial visit the stable decided to target the 2019 Cox Plate instead of heading to last Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.

McDonald said Verry Elleegant’s second visit to The Valley helped put his mind at ease.

“I was a little sceptical after her first one,” McDonald said.

“I thought she was OK without being fantastic but this time, even being by herself as she can be very casual, she knew what she was doing.

“Maybe it felt like a bit of a race day to her with the crowd, but she was good.”

Verry Elleegant strung together three wins `under McDonald during the autumn in Sydney culminating in the Australian Oaks at Randwick, but returned with a below par performance in the Winx Stakes in August.

She showed signs of improvement when fourth to Cox Plate rival Avilius in the George Main Stakes before Verry Elleegant won the Hill Stakes at Randwick on October 5.

McDonald says Verry Elleegant has continued to progress to the point where she deserves her place in the prestigious race.

What he would like on Saturday is a steady tempo.

“She needs to get into a rhythm,” McDonald said.

“When it’s stop-start she tends to over-race, drop the bridle and does a lot wrong, but when she gets into a rhythm, she can be strong late.

“She’s a very good horse.

“Whether it’s her race, I’m not too sure, but we’ll find out.”

 
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