Don't let the little white-on-black symbol, "KM", next to the name of racehorse Hugo The Boss cloud your judgment at the New Year's Day meeting in Hastings today.

That's because trainer John Bary reckons the Karaka Millions colt has long bolted from his stables when he was about 2 to 3 years old.

But that doesn't mean Bary expects anything unrealistic from the now 5-year-old Stratum (Australia) gelding when he lines up with apprentice jockey Madan Singh from barrier No 5 during the feature race, Russell Roads City of Hastings Cup/Fasttrack 5k, from 3.20pm.

"For me, he needs to put his hand up to see where we're at," he says of Hugo The Boss before the $20,000 open handicap race over 1300m of the eight-race "commercial proposition" where purses will equate to loose change relative to other meetings in the festive season.


Since his length victory in a rating 65 race over 1200m at Waipukurau on December 9, Hugo The Boss is working out well and, more importantly, from Bary's perspective, is on a minimum weight.

"It's a big ask from the race he won at Waipukurau because the quality of horses are a lot better but I just wanted to test him to see where he's at because he is good horse who can run some very fast times at the races and at work," he says.

It was the horse's fourth victory but his first since he clinched another rating 65 event over 1000m at Tauherenikau in January 2017.

It's fair to say for Hugo The Boss to live up to his name, a second, a third and two fourths from nine starts don't do justice for a horse Bary paid $100,000 at the 2015 Karaka yearling sales.

Hugo The Boss now flies under the Best Dressed Syndicate banner of which Bary is a shareholder. The others with a vested interest are the trainer's mother, Ann Bary, Alan and Paula Keall and Laurie Parker from Taradale, Innes Nesbitt (Hastings), Narendra Balia, Blair/Denise Martin (Auckland), Gavin Dunnett (Christchurch), Lawrie Bolton (Tauranga) and Heath Newton, who lives in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.

Bary's contender is out of the Zabeel mare Dressed that once won over 1600m in Australia.

He says when expectations don't materialise in the early years of a yearling that commands a six-figure price then it's back to the drawing board.

"You try to get there but if something goes wrong then you reset your targets. You know, there's always another race, generally, so it's frustrating at the time but, like any horse, you just put it behind you and look forward and that's what we've done with Hugo."


Despite an injury punctuating his campaign, he says Hugo is into his fourth season with as many titles to show for among other placings.

"To be fair, he's probably underachieved a little on his ability but, once again, when things go wrong you reset your sights and that's what we've done for this prep and, hopefully, we can take that next step [today]."

Although the sprinklers are on a dead 5 track, Bary feels the firmer the surface the better traction Hugo finds so the peak summer suits him.

A No 1 barrier, which has gone to the Hastings trainer Patrick Campbell's 6-year-old gelding, Scandalo, with apprentice Danielle Hirini in the saddle, would have been ideal for Hugo but Bary says "it is what it is" although the track may fall to a dead 4 by this morning.

"While I prefer to see them [track staff] not water it but, then again, I'm happy for it to be irrigated for the rest of my team [of horses]."

He rates the Steve Gulliver-trained Shadow Fox (apprentice jockey Wiremu Pinn) and Emily Holmes-trained Rocky My Soul (Dylan Turner), another Stratum gelding, to keep Hugo honest.

"They both race up on the pace and that's also Hugo's style so it's a bit of a bugger because it would have been just nice if we could have been there or thereabouts."

He says the last thing he wants to do is to chuck Hugo into a "speed drill" to dash in front to set the pace at the risk of burning himself out.

"In a perfect world we would have got in the front easily or we'd sit behind one or two others who go hard and fast to finish on top of them in the end."

However, he emphasises a lot of that will be left to the jockey to dictate when he weighs up the variables at the height of the race.

Madan's recent returns, including the Waipuk win, mean Bary is happy with the apprentice jockey's endeavour.

"Knowing that a lot of the good jockeys are up north or down south I just got him to come to ride my whole team so it saves a lot of messing around trying to get jockeys, to be fair," he says.

John Bary and groom Sarah Marett with Champagne Bride who won the first race of Hastings Christmas twilight meeting last month but they're hoping she'll do it again today. Photo/file
John Bary and groom Sarah Marett with Champagne Bride who won the first race of Hastings Christmas twilight meeting last month but they're hoping she'll do it again today. Photo/file

Singh will ride Sweet Alibhai in race 2, Phil's Gardens 3YO 1200 (1.31pm); Quick Choice in race 3, the rating 65 Best Travel 1100 (2.06pm); stayer Champagne Bride in race 4, rating 65 Jimmy Rural 2100 (2.44pm); She's A Ripper in race 6, the rating 72 Kahungunu Kapa over 1600m (3.55pm); End of Story in race 7, the NZB Insurance Pearl Series over 1400m for maiden fillies and mares (4.30pm); and Louboutin in the last ride, the Roger Russell/Charlie Keenen Memorial, for maiden runners over 1600m (5.05pm).

Bary may hold one horse for a day later.

He feels End of Story was "a very unlucky second" at Waipuk and should be able to offer an appraisal of sorts with the Mark Lupton-trained Just Fabulous (Jasmine Fawcett).

Quick Choice, a Darci Brahma mare who won this time last year, is another one Bary expects to put her hand up today.