Reigning horse of the year Jimmy Choux is heading to Waikato for stud duties after a deal between Rich Hill Stud and his owner Richard Wood. Racing editor Aidan Rodley reports.
Star galloper Jimmy Choux will begin the next phase of his career at Matamata's Rich Hill Stud.
Rich Hill studmaster John Thompson was yesterday delighted to confirm he had reached a deal with Jimmy Choux's breeder-owner Richard Wood to stand the reigning horse of the year at stud next spring.
The Thorn Park stallion's first-year service fee has been set at $10,000 plus GST.
Five-time Gr I winner Jimmy Choux was retired last month and there had been conjecture about where he would go to stud, with several Australia studfarms expressing an interest.
But Rich Hill Stud has banded together with Nearco Stud principal Greg Tomlinson and bought shares in the stallion to secure him for stud duties in Waikato.
"He's a five-time Gr I winner and a champion Australasian three-year-old. He's as good a racehorse to have retired to stud in recent memory. So that is a real buzz,'' Thompson said.
"He was an outstanding racehorse with a fine physique so he's got absolutely everything in his favour to make a successful stallion.
"It's a funny thing - I'm not saying you pinch yourself, but you walk down our farm and there's Shocking in one paddock and Pentire in another. They were great horses in their own right but he's every bit as good.''
Wood and his wife Liz have retained a 70 per cent share in Jimmy Choux but members of the public have been invited to buy shares in the stallion as a part of a breeding syndicate which will lessen their shareholding.
"We're delighted, over the moon. I couldn't be happier actually,'' Wood said yesterday.
"It's a great commercial stud, run by some great people full of integrity and industry knowledge, and Liz and I are over the moon he's going to get his chance to stamp his mark on the industry throughout Australasia.
"He'll be the cheapest valued priced stallion [service fee] in New Zealand by miles and he's been deliberately priced that way. We want to give everybody a chance, which I've had, to breed to a great champion horse.
"We wanted to put him in the market where he'd be super-competitive and where he wasn't beyond the reach of anyone who wanted to breed to him in the first couple of years.
"We're delighted to be able to bring him back to New Zealand and to a place which we regard, and the industry regards, as one of the top studs in the country.''
Prepared by John Bary, Jimmy Choux won three times as a two-year-old, including in the Gr II Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1200m) at Trentham, as well as placing in the Gr I Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie and the Gr I Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni.
His career went to another level at three, racking up wins in the Gr II Hawke's Bay Guineas (1400m) at Hastings, Gr I 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton, Gr II Great Northern Guineas (1600m) at Ellerslie, Gr III Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa and the Gr I New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie.
He then travelled to Sydney where he ran out a clincial winner of the Gr I Rosehill Guineas (2000m).
Jimmy Choux returned as a four-year-old to claim the Gr I Windsor Park Plate (1600m) and Gr I Spring Classic (2040m), both at Hastings, before heading to Melbourne where he produced a gallant performance to run second in the Gr I Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley and fourth in the Gr I Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington under his 58kg topweight.
That sealed a trip to Hong Kong where he finished ninth in the Gr I Hong Kong Mile (1600m).
He failed to recapture his best form this autumn with Bary saying he already had his mind on his stallion career.
In all, he won 12 of his 26 starts and earned more than $3.62 million.
"He's been unbelievable. Things travel so quickly so it's not even at this point that you sit down and take it all on board,'' Wood said.
"People throw all things around in this industry but they don't appreciate just how difficult it is to win a Gr I, how difficult it is to take a horse to Australia and win a Gr I. He's achieved a huge amount - a huge amount for New Zealand on the international stage.''
Thompson said Jimmy Choux, out of Centaine mare Cierzo, was sure to have strong appeal for breeders who followed his career and attracted to his ``value'' service fee and ``traditional'' New Zealand bloodlines.
"It's great he's coming back to the New Zealand industry, rather than being lost to Australia,'' Thompson said.
"He's got bloodlines that will really suit our broodmare bands - traditional bloodlines. He's out of a Centaine mare and by Thorn Park, our champion sire last year and a young sire on the way up.
"What I liked about him is he's got four lines of Star Kingdom blood in his first six generations. It's very difficult to find stallions with Star Kingdom in their pedigrees these days.''
Thompson said discussions at the recent May sale at Karaka with Tomlinson and his Hamilton-based bloodstock manager Adrian Clark had provided the catalyst to Rich Hill becoming Jimmy Choux's new home.
"We weren't going to stand another stallion, but Sir Percy was so popular in England this year and he's done six straight seasons shuttling and there's a clause in the contract where the owners can rest him, and that's what they've done.
"I was at the May sale talking with Adrian Clark and Greg Tomlinson and they asked me if there were any stallions around I liked the look of.
"I mentioned Jimmy Choux and they were actually thinking along the same lines and that's how it came about.
"A horse with his looks, racetrack ability and pedigree doesn't come on the market very often and sometimes when they do you have to act to secure such a stallion prospect.
"We feel he will be a great addition to the roster here and a horse of his charisma will command a real following and enjoy strong support from the New Zealand breeding industry.
"He also made such a mark in Australia that his future progeny will demand serious attention from overseas buyers.''
Thompson had already established a professional relationship with Richard Wood, having grazed broodmares for him in the past, and he approached him about the possibility of securing Jimmy Choux for Rich Hill Stud.
After a meeting at the stud earlier this week to hammer out the final details, the deal was done.
Jimmy Choux is currently in Australia and will arrive at Rich Hill next month.
- © Fairfax NZ News