Trainer Kevin Hughes has big plans for handy flat performer Speedy Jax after he broke his maiden status over the bigger fences in Saturday’s maiden steeplechase at Riccarton.
Raced in the familiar colours of his owner/breeders Don and Dame Wendy Pye, the winner of seven races on the flat and once over the hurdles looks to have a real future as a steeplechaser judging by the way he put his rivals away on the weekend.
Settled at the tail of the field by rider Stuart Higgins, Speedy Jax measured his fences nicely throughout the 3200m contest before easing into a challenging position with 600m to run.
Higgins took his mount to the outside at the top of the straight where he unleashed a powerful burst after clearing the last fence, to run down northern visitor Mesmerize in a driving finish.
Hughes, who prepares the eight-year-old with wife Pam, was delighted the Christchurch weather patterns had conspired to provide the ideal slow9 footing for his charge on the day.
“The relatively dry conditions were going to suit him down to the ground as he is a lovely jumper in the making,” he said.
“I’m just thrilled for Don and Wendy as they love their jumping and I think this guy is going to go on to better things.”
Hughes announced he harboured plans for Speedy Jax to contest the jumps season ending feature, the Irvines Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m), to be run at Te Rapa this year on September 9.
“I’d like to have a crack at the Northern this year,” he said.
“We’ve won a lot of good races, but we’ve never won a Great Northern.
“With it being at Te Rapa, I think it will be an ideal track for him at that time of the year, so that’s where we will be trying to go.” - NZ Racing Desk