John Bary orchestrates wonders for lonesome music-lover Jimmy Choux
New Zealand trainer John Bary has been training horses for less than four years, but he has relied upon his unique polo background and used some unorthodox methods to help solo traveller Jimmy Choux settle into his Hong Kong base.
The multiple Group One winner is the only competitor from Australia or New Zealand at this year's International Races and was forced to fly alone and is stabled on his own at the Sha Tin quarantine facility.
Bary said the Cox Plate runner-up 'fretted' at first without company, but the installation of a mirror and temporary sound system has quickly soothed the four-year-old's nerves.
'He has a mirror and an iPod playing some music. He is very happy with the mirror. He sits there and admires himself,' Bary joked, before detailing his extensive experience transporting horses: 'I've taken polo ponies to America and horses to Hawaii by boat.'
'It's pretty basic. You've just got to get them to settle well, travel well and eat well,' he said. 'He just fretted a bit because he didn't have anyone in the barn ... it's not ideal, especially for a Kiwi horse - they're used to a paddock in the afternoon and grass in their tummy. It's unfortunate we didn't have another Australasian horse up here with us.'
Bary said his horse was fast approaching his 'fighting weight' and 'had one of the biggest feeds he has ever had last night'.
Former jumps rider and race-day jockey Johnathan Riddell partnered the horse in a non-demanding turf workout yesterday. 'We will do another 600m hit-out on Friday and that should tighten him up,' the trainer said.
'He has been in work since June and we have spaced his races, but he is fit inside. It is just aerobic stuff that we're doing today. There's no good hammering him with a real big gallop today and then have no horse left. It doesn't matter about the Tuesday gallop unless it's the first Tuesday in November.'
Jimmy Choux has won five Group Ones to date, with three of them at 2,000m or beyond. Despite his best performances being wins in the New Zealand Derby (2,400m) and Rosehill Guineas (2,000m), Bary sees his horse as a sprinter-miler.
'He copped the Derby distance on class alone,' he said. 'I know he has won Group Ones over 2,000m but he has also won two over a mile.'
A conversation with Sunline's trainer and countryman, Trevor McKee, further convinced Bary to set his horse for the mile, rather than the 2,000m of the Hong Kong Cup.
Sunline finished seventh in the 1999 Cup, but the champion mare returned 12 months later for her famous mile win.
'Trevor said it is a big track with a big long straight and the mile here for us is like an 1,800m race,' he said. 'And because you're travelling so far, if something is not quite right - then it's 400m less than the Cup.'
A strong-run mile would help Jimmy Choux unleash what Bary believes is the horse's best attribute - his 'devastating turn of foot'.
It was only a rails run by Pinker Pinker which saw Jimmy Choux beaten in the Cox Plate, which he followed with a fourth as favourite in the Group One Emirates Stakes (1,600m).
'You didn't see his best in the Cox Plate because we had to burn him up early,' he said.
'If we can be close to them with 200m to go he gets a soft sit-and-sprint run, I'd back him every day of the week.'