So, has John Bary been kidding us that Jimmy Choux can't win tomorrow's $200,000 Manco Easter Handicap at Ellerslie?

The TAB doesn't totally believe Bary, installing Jimmy Choux the $4.50 favourite over Green Supreme at $6.

Bary swears he has been playing with a straight bat.

"I'm not lying when I say I don't think he can win the race," an adamant Bary told the Herald yesterday.


"He's got 61kg, he's never won the first start of a campaign and he hasn't had a barrier trial.

"He's got a lot against him. Wasn't Grey Way (1977) the last horse to carry that sort of weight successfully in this race? That tells you something."

At least one of his rival trainers, Graham Richardson, believes Jimmy Choux will go close to winning. Richardson has Green Supreme and Atom Cat engaged.

"He's absolutely top class. Even with all those things against him he can still win. Class horses overcome those sorts of things."

Although he hasn't won when fresh, Jimmy Choux has not missed a place in three fresh-up races in his career, so punters can expect some sort of an effort.

"If he runs a good race I'll be confident about heading to Australia to take on the likes of Manighar and More Joyous at his second start," said Bary.

But Bary is not surprised the TAB has made his horse favourite on final field markets. "The problem probably lies with the fact the stable has hurt the TAB a few times lately and also historically with Jimmy Choux."

Graham Richardson has been walking a knife-edge with Green Supreme, after he and James McDonald concluded that the horse was not a stayer and the 1600m Easter was a good target.

"He's probably ideally an 1800m horse, but we either race at 1600m or 2000m, so nothing's perfect for him."

To keep Green Supreme as fresh as possible for this race, Richardson has done very little with the head-strong horse.

"It's been difficult because he's never been very easy. If you decided to go 600m, it can easily end up 1000m."

Green Supreme, in a fresh state, bolted in over 1400m at Awapuni last start. He has drawn nicely at No 6 and new rider Michael Coleman should be able to slot him in where he's comfortable.

Atom Cat, says Richardson, will probably not start unless there is further rain. "There are plenty of races around for him."

Fleur De Lune is the interesting runner. She was narrowly beaten in the group one Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha a year ago and last week went down by a nose in the closest of finishes.

She is speedy and refuses to give in without a fight.

All of Fleur De Lune's wins have been on left-handed tracks, but that is merely circumstantial. Last week's Te Aroha effort showed she is equally comfortable right-handed.

An important factor here is that Fleur De Lune drops from the 57kg of set weights last week to 54.5kg here under handicap conditions.

That, coupled with the perfect barrier, makes her a difficult opponent.

Trainer Linda Laing feels Veyron is in the twilight of his current campaign. Not that she thinks the horse is on the physical slide.

"If he was, he would not be there," she says.

Twilight or not, Veyron is a horse you cannot ignore even with 59kg and a No 22 barrier draw.

The barrier draw does not delight Laing, but it may not be too bad. It would certainly be worse for many other horses in the race.

Veyron races on the speed. From way out wide he can take his time in the long run down the back straight sliding across the field to either lead or sit outside the leader.

Veyron's stats are immaculate. Twelve wins from 20 starts, four wins from seven starts at 1600m and has had 11 Ellerslie starts for seven victories.

The massive chestnut will be re-united with regular rider Rogan Norvall, who was sidelined for several months with injury.

A win here would be a welcome back for the popular former South African.

Stylish juvenile filly Waterford heads into the $50,000 Novatel Champagne Stakes with racing royalty behind her.

Waterford's American dam Grienton was co-bred by one of the greats, legendary trainer the late Charlie Whittingham.

The filly's winning run at Te Rapa last start was the sort of stuff Whittingham would have loved.

Back from a wide barrier, Waterford was required to make a sweeping run around the field from the 500m and never looked like flinching late in the race, despite being strongly challenged by Epicurean.

She has drawn No 1 in tomorrow's 2-year-old feature where the youngsters step up to 1600m. Waterford has only to reproduce her Te Rapa run to be the horse to beat.

And Epicurean has only to replicate hers from that day to be right in the fight.

This is overall a better field than this race generally attracts, although there have been some good winners.

Mato Grosso and Twilight Granita look likely to take high rankings in the new season.