Former New Zealander Verona has all but forced her way onto Ciaron Maher’s Brisbane winter carnival team with a dashing victory in the Frank Packer Plate at Randwick.
Having finished fifth in midweek grade at her Australian debut over a mile last month, the filly appreciated a distance rise to 2000 metres on Saturday, coming from off the speed and pinching runs towards the inside before spearing clear to score.
Verona ($21) had 1-1/2 lengths to spare over Maurice’s Medad ($10), who attempted to lead throughout, with drifting $2.40 favourite Straight Arron another long head away third.
Jo Gerard-Dubord, stable representative for Maher and training partner David Eustace, said Verona arrived in Australia shortly after finishing fourth in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie in January.
They knew she had taken improvement from her first local run and expected her to be competitive in Saturday’s Group 3 race, but not as dominant as she proved.
“We knew there was plenty of improvement but probably not that much improvement so that was good,” Gerard-Dubord said.
“Obviously the step up in trip too was always going to be a big plus.
“She has been here for a while. She spent a bit of time at the beach and we have taken our time with her.”
Gerard-Dubord confirmed the filly was likely to head to the Queensland Oaks (2200m) after her Frank Packer Plate performance.
“She probably has to now,” he said.
“She gets through the wet but top of the ground will be just as good.”
James Mcdonald said backmarker Straight Arron was disadvantaged by conditions on the day with the first three winners settling near the speed and making their runs towards the inside.
“”The track bias (was) against us,” McDonald said.