New Zealand’s glamour colt Jimmy Choux looks nearly unbeatable in Saturday week’s $1.5 million Group 1 AJC Australian Derby (2400m) and owner of the Thorn Park three-year-old Richard Wood is full of confidence leading up to the autumn showdown.
Boasting a commanding record of 10 wins and five minor placings from his 17 career starts to date, Jimmy Choux strung together four consecutive Group victories back home in New Zealand before heading down under to win the $500,000 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) last start on March 26.
Breaking the hoodoo of New Zealand Derby winners in the Rosehill Guineas, Jimmy Choux went out as the firm favourite for the three-year-olds’ feature and saluted for the punters beating home the Peter Snowden-trained Retrieve by a half-length.
Prior to the Guineas trainer John Bary tipped his top colt as the horse to beat.
“My gut feeling is that I think he will win and win well,” Bary said.
His gut feeling was right.
Jimmy Choux has now amassed over $2 million in prize money for connections including owner-breeder Richard Wood, head of Chouxmaani Investments.
Wood has been breeding horses since the tender age of 21 and now approaching 60, his determination and commitment are finally paying off.
“It’s been many, many years in the making,” Wood said in regards to perfecting his breeding.
Using a pedigree, designer programme Wood thinks he has found the right recipe for success with Jimmy Choux.
Jimmy Choux, pronounced $2.80 favourite in the current 2011 AJC Australian Derby odds, is by 2004 Stradbroke Handicap winner Thorn Park from the mare Cierzo.
Wood purchased Cierzo sight unseen for just $2,500.
Not only did Wood hand select Jimmy Choux’s parents, but he also made the all important decision for friend and professional polo player Bary to train the colt.
“He (Bary) is a very professional person, not reliant on training fees for income,” Wood said.
“His eye for a horse is 100 times better than mine.”
As well as the owner and trainer, another element to Jimmy Choux’s success lies in jockey Jonathan Riddell.
A former jumps jockey, Riddell has been aboard Jimmy Choux for all but one of his race starts.
In the Rosehill Guineas, Jimmy Choux gave Retrieve a big lead.
After the eventual runner-up kicked clear on the straight, many jockeys would have panicked.
Riddell, however, kept a cool head and Jimmy Choux was able to overpower Retrieve on the straight.
It was the combination of Jimmy Choux’s tremendous acceleration that carried him through as well as Riddell’s patience that enabled them to win the Rosehill Guineas.
Born in Antarctica, Riddell doesn’t let the pressure of a big Group 1 race get to him.
“He (Riddell) still has the ice in his veins,” Wood said.
Another quality factor behind Jimmy Choux is the colt’s amazing versatility on the track.
Handling wet or dry conditions, Jimmy Choux also performs over nearly any distance winning from 800m to 2400m with ease.
Next Saturday, April 9, at Randwick Jimmy Choux will again start the favourite this time in the AJC Derby.
Following his run and likely win in the Derby, Wood said they would see how he comes through the race and if Jimmy Choux pulls up as well as he did after the Guineas then they would press on to the $500,000 Group 1 AJC Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on the last day of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, April 23.
While there have been offers for Jimmy Choux to go to England’s Royal Ascot, Wood is leaning towards keeping the colt in Australia at this stage.
A trip to Royal Ascot would only be conditional on a stud wanting to get involved and there has been interest.
However, Jimmy Choux would immediately be a four-year-old going there and with a 35 hour plane trip in the mix, connections are favouring to keep him here.
Wood is also looking towards the spring and said he would like to bring him back for the 2011 Cox Plate.
The richest weight-for-age race in the world, the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) is set to run at Moonee Valley on October 22, 2011.
Jimmy Choux looks fighting fit for the AJC Derby having improved considerably since the Guineas working well at Warwick Farm earlier this week.
“He’ll be a danger…he’ll be hard to beat,” Wood said.