Mighty mare Verry Elleegant was crowned Australian Horse of the Year in mid-October. The event, usually held in August (not long after the racehorses’ birthdays), was postponed.
Trained by Chris Waller, Verry Elleegant won five group one races last season, including the 2020 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the 2021 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick. Since she started racing, she has chalked up 14 wins, mostly at elite level, and has been usually ridden by top Sydney jockey James McDonald.
Waller’s October got even better when his star sprinter Nature Strip won the world’s richest race, the $15 million Everest, run over 1200m at Randwick. “I’m getting a little emotional for a change”, Waller told Channel Seven after the race, with tongue in cheek. He is well known for becoming teary when interviewed after big race wins, particularly with his champion racemare Winx. “It’s just a great race. It’s just captured the imagination of so many people, inside racing and out. What better way to get out of Covid than a race day! He [Nature Strip] just didn’t panic, really.”
“The horse is a star”, stated jockey James McDonald after the race. Seven-year-old gelding Nature Strip’s $6,200,000 earnings for the win lifted his stake earnings to $14-plus million, promoting him to fourth on the all-time earnings list, behind Winx ($26-plus million), Redzel (two time Everest winner) and Makybe Diva (three time Melbourne Cup winner). Champion NZ mare Sunline holds fifth place with $11-plus in earnings. Like Verry Elleegant, Nature Strip has succeeded at the elite level for several seasons. It’s a great testimony to these horses’ supreme athletic ability.
2022 Gay Games delayed for a year
Next year’s Gay Games in Hong Kong have been rescheduled to 2023. The Games originated in 1982 and have been held in capital cities around the world every four years since. Athletes compete in age divisions in a wide range of sports, including athletics, tennis, cycling and swimming. Approximately 10,000 Hong Kong men and women will volunteer their services for the two-week event. The opening and closing ceremonies promise to be major spectacles.