Verona relishes the conditions and distance to notch seventh Stakes win for Belardo

Maher and Eustace with a Queensland Oaks campaign now looming large

New Zealand-bred filly Verona posted her first black-type victory and gave former European champion two-year-old Belardo his seventh Stakes winner on Saturday, 16 April when she won the G3 Frank Packer Plate over 2,000m at Royal Randwick in Sydney.

Purchased after finishing a game fourth in the Karaka 3YO Millions at Ellerslie on 22 January, the three-year-old settled in midfield for jockey William Pike, before charging past Maurice’s Medad in the home straight to win by 1.5 lengths on the heavy track.

Now trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, Verona is out of New Zealand mare Spamalot and was originally sold by Haunui Farm at the 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Yearling Sale for the bargain price of NZ$8,000.

Her five runs in New Zealand produced just one win but the three-year-old was highly competitive in strong Stakes races and caught the eye of Maher and Eustace, who are renowned for their success with staying stock.

The filly looks certain to head north for the winter carnival, with the G1 Queensland Oaks an ideal target.

Belardo was a dual G1 winner of the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket during a 16-start career on the track which yielded five wins and three placings.