Death of 2021 Melbourne Cup Winner Shocks the Racing World

Ben H / 27 February 2024

Last Updated on 27 February 2024

2021 Melbourne Cup winner Verry Elleegant suddenly died while giving birth in France, where she was sent to stud following an impressive racing career. Unfortunately, her foal died too. Verry Elleegant was one of the most successful horses to have ever raced on Australian soil, winning 16 of her 42 starts.

Loved by Everyone Who Worked with Her

Voted as the Australian Horse of the Year in 2021, Verry Elleegant was one of the best horses trainer Chris Waller has worked with, and one of the most illustrious runners jockey James McDonald has ridden, with the Melbourne Cup 2021 victory being the highlight of his career.

Chris Waller Racing released a statement on Monday saying how incredibly sad the ownership group was with Verry Elleegant’s sudden and unexpected death. The stable said the staff was taken aback by the news and was slowly coming to terms with what had happened.

Chris Waller Racing thanked everyone on the farm for doing everything they could do for the mare and for providing her with the care she deserved. They praised the horse for “the courage she had on the racetrack” which was clear for everyone to see, adding she would never be forgotten by both those who worked with her and the general public who “loved her so much.”

One of Few Horses with Double-Digit Group 1 Victories

In her illustrious career, Verry Elleegant won eleven Group 1 races, totalling almost $15 million in prize money. In addition to the 2021 Melbourne Cup win, Verry Elleegant won the Caulfield Cup in 2020 too.

John O’Neil, who co-owned the mare, told SEN radio that it was “absolutely horrendous” to hear about the tragic news. He said no other horse has given them so much joy “from a racing aspect” as Verry Elleegant did. O’Neil confirmed that every effort to save the life of Verry Elleegant and her foal was made, but it didn’t work out.

Legendary trainer Wayne Hawkes paid tribute to Verry Elleegant, saying she was “up with the great names.” He added that few people realised how good these double-digit Group 1 winners were until they were gone.

Ben H
Ben Harris is the Communications Manager for KRUZEY, an AFL and NRL expert, and writer. He has one daughter that he loves dearly and five... [Read full bio]

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