The world’s best sprinter Black Caviar and exciting three-year-old Jimmy Choux will be the two headline horses at Saturday’s AJC Australian Derby Day 2011, the turf stars sure to draw a bumper crowd to the Royal Randwick.
Saturday will be the 150th edition of the AJC Australian Derby, but as is becoming tradition, Peter Moody’s brilliant Bel Esprit mare Black Caviar is likely to hog the spotlight when she lines up for her 12th straight victory in the $1 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
The marquee race on the Randwick race-card is officially the $1.5 million Group 1 AJC Australian Derby (2400m) for three-year-olds.
After coming up with the prized barrier one for the 2011 AJC Derby, New Zealand’s champion colt Jimmy Choux is set to start odds-on favourite as he attempts back-to-back Group 1 wins in Australia.
Last start the son of Thorn Park made his Australian race debut in fine style, blitzing a field of fellow three-year-olds in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on March 26.
The win at Rosehill was Jimmy Choux’s fifth Group victory in a row and on Saturday he will attempt the Rosehill Guineas – AJC Derby double.
Despite his status as the best three-year-old of the season, it is not Jimmy Choux the spectators at Randwick will be out to see but the mighty Black Caviar.
The 2011 TJ Smith Stakes will be Black Caviar’s first appearance in Sydney and if the masses of fans she has attracted in Melbourne are anything to go by, it will be a capacity crowd at Randwick on the weekend.
“The Darley TJ Smith Stakes is one of Australia’s premiere sprint races and presents a wonderful opportunity for the mare to show Sydney what she is capable of,” Peter Moody said of Black Caviar.
So what does trainer John Bary think of his horse Jimmy Choux playing second favourite to Black Caviar in the minds of the masses on Derby Day.
“I don’t mind playing second fiddle to a champion like Black Caviar,” Bary told AAP.
“Hopefully in Jimmy Choux I’ve got a champion in the making but I’ve got to say I’m almost as excited at getting the chance to watch Black Caviar in the flesh as I am at having a runner in the Derby.”
Black Caviar became the first sprinter in history to make number one in the World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR) last week when she was given the top rating of 130.
The rating is also the equal highest ever given to a mare along with French champion Gooldikova (2009).
Jimmy Choux was $2.20 favourite in the AJC Derby markets before this morning’s barrier draw.
After his ideal gate draw and the fact many of his Derby rivals including second-favourite Retrieve were less than impressive in their final run in the Tulloch Stakes at Rosehill last Saturday, his price is set to firm.
“I guess the bookies, the punters and the form analysts have figured there isn’t maybe much more to come out of the woodwork,” Bary said.
According to Bary Jimmy Choux is in career best form and will take some beating on Saturday.
“He’s in fantastic order and if anything he has probably come on since the Guineas,” Bary said.
Along with the Peter Snowden-trained Retrieve, Australian Guineas winning filly Shamrocker is the only other Derby hopeful in the market.
The Danny O’Brien-trained daughter of O’reilly is coming off a third to Jimmy Choux in the Rosehill Guineas and has drawn barrier eight for Saturday.
One-time AJC Derby favourite Absolutelyawesome drifted right out in the odds after running a disappointing eighth in the Rosehill Guineas.
Trainer Michael Moroney will add blinkers to Absolutelyawesome for the Derby in the hopes his Zenno Rob Roy gelding will bounce back.