Boom Kiwi galloper Jimmy Choux is ready for the biggest test of their career to date, John Bary’s five-time Group 1 hero having drawn favourably in barrier two for the 2011 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin’s Hong Kong International Race Day this Sunday, December 11.
Thorn Park four-year-old Jimmy Choux is the sole Australasian representative at this year’s prestigious Hong Kong International Races, and is one of a capacity 14 starters plus an emergency accepted for the HK$20 million Group 1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (1600m).
In an early bit of good fortune the Cox Plate runner-up came up trumps with gate two in the Hong Kong Mile barrier draw, New Zealand hoop Jonathan Riddell making the trip over to partner with two-time millionaire.
Riddell and Bary were both beaming on Thursday morning after Jimmy Choux had his first serious piece of work on the turf course proper at Sha Tin galloping over 1200 metres in 1:15.2, his final 400 metres run in 23.8.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while and even more so after he worked well this morning,” Riddell said.
“It’s great to be here and fantastic to ride in a major international race on the flat.”
The ace hoop who has riding experience in countries including Japan, America and the UK went on to say it was a brave move from Bary to target Hong Kong with Jimmy Choux right from the start of his preparation, but that it has worked out tremendously.
“It’s been in the planning for quite a while, in fact right from the start of his campaign which I thought might have been jumping the gun a bit but here we are,” he said.
Riddell was fully confident in his mount’s ability to adapt to the international racing scene and perform up to par on Sunday, meaning he could relax and do what he needed behind the reigns without worrying if Jimmy Choux would respond.
“He takes the pressure off because you know he’ll give his best, you know he’ll respond when you ask him and you can ride him anywhere in a race,” he said.
“Touch wood, I think he’ll run very well on Sunday.”
Bary likes what he sees in Jimmy Choux’s condition, saying they looked in even better form than leading up to their gallant Cox Plate run in October.
“The horse is well within himself,” Bary said.
“He may even be a little better than he was leading into the Cox Plate.
“His coat’s fantastic with a copper sheen and while he’s been up since June, we’ve spaced his races.
“When he’s on song he’s got a devastating turn of foot and the mile suits him.
“Getting beaten in the Cox Plate really stung and that has made me even more determined.
“I want him to win for us, but I also want to win for the New Zealand bloodstock industry and the Australasian racing scene.
“So we are flying a lot of flags here on Sunday.”
If successful Jimmy Choux will join the mighty Sunline (2000) as the only other New Zealand-trained Hong Kong Mile winner in history.
Bary himself has been consulting Sunline’s trainer Trevor McKee and getting guidance ahead of his Hong Kong assault, admitting he also considered the Hong Kong Cup over 2000 metres for Jimmy Choux before deciding on the Mile.
“We could have looked at the Cup at 2000 metres but settled on the mile,” he said.
“I spoke to Trevor McKee and he said to go to the mile first as it’s less taxing and it’s more like an 1800 metres race in any case.
“After what Sunline did for the McKees I Thought that was worth paying attention to.”
If anyone knows how to get a Kiwi to perform in Hong Kong it’s McKee who learned from his mistakes, Sunline having run seventh in the 1999 Hong Kong Cup before returning 12 months later to snare the Mile in fine style.
Jimmy Choux is rated the second elect in the Hong Kong Mile odds at bookmakers around Australia paying around $6.50 in markets led by the John Moore-trained local Xtension ($6).
Xtension comes off a narrow last-start fifth to Destined For Glory in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile at the track and distance, the Xaar four-year-old beaten only half a length.
A Sha Tin specialist over the mile, Moore is hoping Xtension can return to the form that saw them snare a narrow win in the Group 1 Champions Mile (1600m) at the track back in April, before which they ran second to Ambitious Dragon in the Hong Kong Derby.
Other top picks in the Hong Kong Mile betting include French mare Sahpresa ($8.50) who ran an eye-catching third in the Kyoto Mile Championship in Japan last start, fellow French-trained visitor Cityscape ($9) and defending Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Flash ($9.50) looking to improve on their sixth in the Jockey Club Mile.
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2011 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile Field & Barriers
Sha Tin Race 7 – 3:50 (local time) – 11/12/2011
|1||CITYSCAPE||126||R Charlton||S Drowne||12|
|2||JIMMY CHOUX||126||J Bary||J Riddell||2|
|3||RAJSAMAN||126||F Head||T Jarnet||4|
|4||BEAUTY FLASH||126||A S Cruz||G Mosse||10|
|5||XTENSION||126||J Moore||D Beadman||5|
|6||ABLE ONE||126||J Moore||J Lloyd||7|
|7||FLYING BLUE||126||J Size||O Doleuze||6|
|8||DESTINED FOR GLORY||126||J Moore||T Clark||1|
|9||FAIR TRADE||126||C Fownes||B Prebble||3|
|10||SICHUAN SUCCESS||126||J Size||D Whyte||13|
|11||FAT CHOY OOHLALA||126||C H Yip||M Guyon||11|
|12||DUBAWI GOLD||125||R Hannon||R Hughes||14|
|13||SAHPRESA||122||Rod Collet||C Lemaire||8|
|14||APAPANE||122||S Kunieda||M Ebina||9|
|Eme.||OUTDOOR PEGASUS||126||PF Yiu||–||–|