While all the Derby attention has been on Jimmy Choux, another Kiwi has been quietly going about his business before he attempts to upstage the star three-year-old at Randwick on Saturday.
Roger James went to the 2009 Karaka yearling sale on a mission to buy a Derby horse.
He paid $360,000 for a son of Pentire and that colt, He’s Remarkable, will line up against Jimmy Choux in the 150th AJC Australian Derby (2400m).
He’s Remarkable ran sixth in the Group One Rosehill Guineas (2000m) last start and James can’t fault him heading into the Randwick feature where he gets another chance at Derby success.
“That was my brief when I bought the horse, they wanted a horse good enough to run in Derbys,” James said.
“He has run in one Derby already but we struck an absolute bog that day (when ninth to Jimmy Choux in the NZ Derby) and hopefully we can strike a better track on Saturday.”
He’s Remarkable has already seen plenty of Jimmy Choux this season having trailed him home five times already.
He came closest to beating Jimmy Choux in the Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) last November when he finished second on a heavy track.
He’s Remarkable, a $21 Derby chance, will jump from barrier 13 of 14 with $2.05 favourite Jimmy Choux to begin from the rails.
“His preparation has been perfect, his work (on Tuesday morning) was very good and I couldn’t fault him,” James said.
“Significantly I wanted a good draw and a good track, I haven’t got the good draw but if I get the good track I’ll be half-happy.”
With fine weather in Sydney on Thursday the Randwick track has improved to a dead (5) and James has always expected He’s Remarkable to show his best when he got to a Derby distance.
“A mile and a half (2400m) at three and two miles (3200m) at four,” James said.
“He is by Pentire out of a Zabeel mare and he acts like he is bred to act (over a distance).”
Jimmy Choux is clearly the benchmark in the Derby but aside from the John Bary-trained colt, James said it didn’t look to be “a vintage year”.
The Cambridge-based trainer said He’s Remarkable’s four-length Rosehill Guineas defeat had brought him to his peak for Saturday.
“It was a staying-type run in a race where they sprinted home from the 600-metre mark,” he said.
“That would top him off nicely, he hadn’t run for a while since our Derby (in New Zealand).”