Racing: Jimmy Choux finds expert support

Helmet earns a Cox Plate start by courageously holding off Manawanui to win the Caulfield Guineas on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images
Helmet earns a Cox Plate start by courageously holding off Manawanui to win the Caulfield Guineas on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images

Sunline's co-trainer Steve McKee insists new Kiwi star Jimmy Choux is "clearly" the horse to beat in the Cox Plate.

McKee, who teamed with his father, Trevor, and Sunline to win two Cox Plates, thinks victory on Saturday week could elevate Jimmy Choux from the good-horse category to champion status.

"You'll see a different horse to the one who raced in Sydney as a 3-year-old last season. He's really strengthened up," McKee told the Herald Sun.

"He really is THE horse in New Zealand. He's doing everything with ease and he's an ideal horse for a Cox Plate because he's push-button.

"He is clearly the horse to beat in the race."

While McKee loves Jimmy Choux's acceleration, he said the 4-year-old's strength could be his best asset at Moonee Valley against Cox Plate favourite Helmet.

"You give Helmet a lot of credit for his Guineas win. He went a second faster than my horse [King Mufhasa] winning the Toorak," he said.

"But the Cox Plate will be Helmet's first try at 2040m, while Jimmy Choux is tough and already a Derby winner."

Another Kiwi trainer, Graeme Boyd, who trains the talented Ginga Dude, also rates Jimmy Choux a standout.

"I've seen plenty of him and he's a special horse," Boyd said. "I'm told his latest win was sensational. He's the one they all have to beat."

McKee said he had given only brief thought to running King Mufhasa in the Cox Plate. "He's only had the one try at 2000m and that was as a 3-year-old, but he hurt himself in the race and we didn't find out if he ran the trip.

"I don't think the Cox Plate is the sort of race you want to use to find that out.

"We're taking him back to New Zealand now, but he'll come back to race during Melbourne Cup week.

"The obvious option is the Emirates Stakes, but we are giving thought to trying him over 2000m in the Mackinnon with a lack of depth around in the middle-distance, weight-for-age horses."

Sydney trainer Peter Snowden said Helmet came through unscathed from his Caulfield Guineas win and he has all but locked in a start for the glamour 3-year-old in the Cox Plate.

Helmet had to run a race record when leading all the way to beat Manawanui but Snowden said the colt coped with the tough run better than expected.

"It would have been no surprise to see him with his head in the corner but he ate everything on Saturday night and that is a great sign," Snowden said.

"He was well-conditioned for the Caulfield Guineas and I'm confident he has come through the race in good order. At this stage, he's 90 per cent certain to run in the Cox Plate."

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy has already begun dieting to ensure he makes Helmet's weight of 49.5kg, which is another indication that the Darley team want to test their colt against older horses in the nation's weight-for-age championship.

It takes a rare 3-year-old to win both the Caulfield Guineas and Cox Plate, with champions Surround (1976) and Red Anchor (1984) the only horses from that age group to complete the double in the past 40 years. But Helmet's Caulfield Guineas win impressed bookies enough to elevate the colt to $3.50 favouritism for the Cox Plate.

Jimmy Choux, who had been the long-time favourite, arrived in Melbourne on Sunday. Trainer John Bary is likely to take the New Zealand superstar for a track gallop at Moonee Valley today.

Bary was happy to see Kiwi King Mufhasa win the Toorak Handicap as Jimmy Choux had beaten that horse in New Zealand at his last start.

"King Mufhasa has franked the form of Jimmy Choux," Bary said.

Manawanui, so brave in defeat behind Helmet last Saturday, is still on the Victoria Derby trail but trainer Ron Leemon has ruled out a Cox Plate start.

"There's been some talk about the Cox Plate but we are not going that way," Leemon said. "My gut feeling is to look at the AAMI Vase and then we are still in the Derby."

Trainer Mike Moroney believes top-class English import Glass Harmonium is better suited to the Cox Plate than the Caulfield Cup. "We are 99 per cent sure we are going to run in the Cox Plate." AAP

- NZ Herald

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