Verona roars back into winning form

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  • August 07, 2023
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New Zealand-bred mare Verona turned her form around in emphatic style at Rosehill on Saturday, charging home from last to score a runaway win in the A$160,000 Schweppes Handicap (2400m).

The daughter of Belardo proved herself against some of the best of her generation as a three-year-old, headed by a win in the Gr.3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick in April of last year. She had previously measured up against strong age-group company in New Zealand too, finishing fourth in the Gr.2 Royal Stakes (2000m), fourth in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) and fifth in the Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m).

But Verona’s form had subsequently fallen away, finishing outside the placings in all of her six starts between her Frank Packer Plate victory and Saturday. That all changed at Rosehill as the five-year-old defied her $20 odds with a dominant performance.

Ridden by Tyler Schiller for trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, Verona sat at the tail of the field before launching a spectacular finish out wide in the home straight. Within a handful of impressive bounds, she swept past her six rivals and went clear to score by four lengths.

“That was impressive,” Schiller said. “There’s a touch of sting out of the track today, which really helped her. I think she’s been performing well on the good tracks, but it shows that once she gets back to a little bit of rain-affected ground, she probably appreciates that a bit more. She’s won on heavy before.

“But she showed a really good turn of foot from the back of the field today and put them away pretty quickly.

“When they started making moves around the corner, it just helped her get into her rhythm, get her momentum up, and she ran through the line like a two-miler.”

Verona was bred by Don and Dame Wendy Pye. She is the best of three winners from four to race out of the Stravinsky mare Spamalot.

Offered by Haunui Farm in the Book 3 session at Karaka in 2020, Verona was bought for $8,000 by trainer Jenna Mahoney under her Cypress Point Farms banner.

Mahoney trained Verona for her five-start New Zealand career, which featured a debut win at Te Aroha in October of 2021 before her string of highly creditable efforts at black-type level. She was sold and relocated across the Tasman in February of 2022. – NZ Racing Desk.

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