Jimmy Choux beats He's Remarkable (11), Twilight Savings and Rememba Howe (obscured inner). Colin Berry Race Images Christchurch
There was almost a feeling of inevitability about the performance by Jimmy Choux (3 B. C. Thorn Park – Cierzo, by Centaine) to win the $1,000,000, Group I, 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on Saturday for Hastings trainer John Bary.
In only his second year of training, Bary is the great-great-grandson of George Gatonby Stead, a Racing Hall of Fame inductee, who joined the Canterbury Jockey Club in 1872 before becoming the honorary secretary for 30 years and forming the New Zealand Racing Conference.
“George might have been there riding the last 100m”, Bary surmised.
A generation later the family shifted from Christchurch to Hastings, where the 40-year-old Bary is a resident trainer with a team of 35 horses. He previously played professional polo for ten years in America and Australia, advancing to a six handicap, before ending his career with a win in the Saville Cup, in New Zealand in 2001.
Jimmy Choux was the first horse Bary had presented on the Riccarton track and following a splendid ride by Johnathan Riddell he out toughed his rivals for a courageous win.
“He’s a champ and it’s a great feeling”, said Bary as the magnitude of his first group one victory started to sink in.
After being camped fourth on a genuine pace, Jimmy Choux levelled under a nice hold by Riddell at the 400m before finding a one length advantage, but Bary admitted some concerns when the lead was under threat a furlong out.
Bary said, “When he was headed in the straight I thought he’d blown out, but he dug deep. He’s always had a big heart and he is a pro. Johnathan said when one came up to challenge he (Jimmy Choux) turned his head, looked and saw it, dug in again and kicked on.”
While some of his rivals had their prospects hindered by the slow footing, Bary was grinning a day out from the meeting as the rain fell.
“I was smiling yesterday afternoon when it was pelting down and I had a bit of a nibble on him then”, said Bary.
“It was a good field, they don’t give you group ones in New Zealand. We knew we had a good draw, we knew we had some rain, knew we missed the Wellington bog and we know from what he’s done in the past if he gets into a heads up heads down finish you just know he’s going to be there for you”, added Bary.
Bary opted to bypass the Wellington Guineas with Jimmy Choux recently because of the heavy track and had some concerns about the length of time since his win in the Group II Hawkes Bay Guineas at Hastings on October 2, at his previous start.
“I was genuinely worried about missing that run (Wellington Guineas) which meant it was five weeks, but you just can’t underestimate his heart, he’s got such a big heart”, said Bary.
Bary had high praise for Johnathan Riddell (32), a rider that has to spend plenty of time in a sauna in order to keep his weight down sufficiently to ride on the flat. Also a jumps rider, Riddell boasts three Grand National Steeplechase successes and two Grand National Hurdles wins on the Riccarton track.
“He won my first race on a two-year-old, he won my first group two race, and now he’s won my first group one – he’s alright”, said Bary.
For his Hawkes Bay owner and breeder Richard and Liz Wood, under their banner Chouxmaani Investments Ltd, Jimmy Choux has now won five of his eleven starts, with three seconds and two thirds, for earnings of $777,175.
Bary said, “They are some of the first owners that supported me from the start. They’re great people to me and great owners.”
The race was robbed of some glamour when the strongly supported filly We Can Say It Now (Starcraft) was given reprieve from the slow footing.
She will now contest the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton on November 13.
Jimmy Choux ran the mile in 1:39.46, last 600m in 37.82 and returned $4.10 & $1.90 as the race favourite on the NZ TAB.
The performance for second by the second favourite He’s Remarkable (Pentire) was made even more notable as jockey Matthew Cameron lost his whip when it broke at the 250m as he was mounting a challenge.
While the Baker stable lost the impetus of We Can Say It Now when she became a late scratching, they were still ably represented by Twilight Savings (Secret Savings), with the filly running a gallant third.
Rememba Howe (Handsome Ransom) in fourth, Encosta Diablo (Encosta De Lago) fifth and Barside (Tobougg), who came from last with a big finish for sixth, were all notable achievements in the group one event.
Jimmy Choux and Johnathan Riddell go for home