Progressive Bostonian wants to fill those big shoes

A comprehensive first-up win in the Counties Bowl suggests Bostonian is in for a big summer.

It was an omen of sorts when an aged equine gentleman named Mufhasa, a great crowd favourite of yesteryear, stepped out at the request of the Counties Racing Club at Pukekohe Park last Saturday to lead out the field for the Counties Cup.

Barely half an hour later, Mufhasa's close relative Bostonian stepped out in the same racing colours to win the Listed Counties Bowl in his first start for the season.

Bostonian is not yet in the class of Mufhasa, who won 10 Group Ones (including two in Australia) and was twice New Zealand Horse of the Year. Indeed, Bostonian is still overshadowed by his sire Jimmy Choux, who was New Zealand Horse of the Year in 2010-11, between Mufhasa's two reigns.

But what a good, genuine, pushbutton racehorse Bostonian is! And by the time he is through, he may be mentioned in the same ballpark as those two champions.

Bostonian is a now four-year-old bay gelding by Jimmy Choux from Keepa Cheval, by Keeper from Sheila Cheval, by Mi Preferido. He was bred and is raced by Archer Equine Investments, the entity comprising David Archer, his children Simon and Natalie and partner Di Wright. The same group raced Mufhasa, but in his case bought him out of the sale ring for $50,000.

Mufhasa was bred by Colin and John Thompson out of Sheila Cheval and is thus a half-brother to Bostonian's dam. John stood Pentire at Rich Hill Stud through his lengthy and successful career and is now standing Bostonian's sire, Jimmy Choux.

Bostonian, after winning twice as a two-year-old, won a Listed sprint at Hastings in his three-year-old debut, then ran a close second to Hard Merchandize in the Hawke's Bay Guineas, fifth in the James and Annie Sarten Stakes at Te Rapa and sixth in Embellish's 2000 Guineas. It was a spring campaign which suggested a second-tier three-year-old, one with ability but lacking class.

At that point of his career, Jimmy Choux had won three races as a two-year-old and two, the Hawke's Bay Guineas and New Zealand 2000 Guineas, at three - with much more to come. Mufhasa's three-year-old form was more in Bostonian's mould. He won once as a two-year-old and hadn't revealed enough class as a spring three-year-old to even start in the 2000 Guineas.

What Bostonian's spring three-year-old form didn't even hint at was what would happen last winter at the tail-end of the old season. Taken to Queensland by trainer Tony Pike, Bostonian had three starts and successively won the Sunshine Coast Daylight Lover sprint, a 1350-metre sprint at Doomben and then the Gr. 3 Sunshine Coast Guineas.

It was a transformational campaign. Bostonian (The Bostonian in Australia) had furnished into a different horse. Resuming last weekend at Pukekohe, he took the lead easily enough inside the last 300 metres but then appeared to wobble a bit as the smart and more-seasoned mare Santa Monica (Per Incanto) cut into his lead. Then rider Vinnie Colgan pressed the magic pushbutton and Bostonian held on by a clear length and a half.

New Zealand's big summer sprints, the Railway at Ellerslie and the Telegraph at Trentham, now beckon Bostonian. He will, says David Archer, go straight into the Railway without a race in the five weeks between now and then. Big efforts in the two big New Zealand sprints will influence what he does after that, but last season's Queensland heroics suggest his connections won't be shying away from another trans-Tasman campaign.

Back in 2010-11, Jimmy Choux followed his 2000 Guineas victory with successive wins in the Great Northern Guineas, Wellington Stakes and Waikato Guineas, before handling a heavy track better than most feared when winning the New Zealand Derby. During an autumn campaign in Sydney he won the Rosehill Guineas (another Group One) and ran close up in the AJC Derby, earning him top ranking on the Australasian Three-Year-Old Classification to match his age group champion status at home.

Further Group Ones awaited Jimmy Choux as a four-year-old, but his best performance was second to the outsider Pinker Pinker in the Cox Plate of 2011.

Since he went to stud, Bostonian has been the best of Jimmy Choux's 57 winners so. Bostonian's dam, Keepa Cheval, has since produced a 2015 bay filly by Shamexpress, a colt foal by Makfi and, last year, a filly by Rip Van Winkle.

The family from which Bostonian and Mufhasa descend was a very successful one back in the 1950s and '60s, when even Cos was youthful and first getting interested in the breeding side of racing. Founded by a Foxbridge mare named Volifox, the line was known as the Swney family after the Hauraki Plains family who bred so many winners from the clan.

The best horse from the family in that era was Ben Lomond (by Test Case), a showy dark brown raced not by the Swneys but by an already elderly owner named Ernie Montgomery and trained for him by Jack Winder.

The family has continued to produce some good gallopers since those days, Fort Cheval and Commander Cheval coming to mind. But Mufhasa has certainly been the best family representative since, and probably including, Ben Lomond.

I wouldn't be alone in thinking that Bostonian's chapter is as yet only half written.


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