Racing: Perry expects Choisir to restart the party

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The Independent Online

To think we sent the Australians to the place that became their home for pinching things. As many said at the time, transportation was not a far-sighted penal policy, and, around 200 years on, we have the glaring proof. The Aussies are back here and they have still not rid themselves, on the turf at least, of an acquisitive nature.

When Choisir runs in next Thursday's July Cup at Newmarket for the father and son team of Paul and Shannon Perry, who train at Broadmeadow, Newcastle, near Sydney in New South Wales, he will be attempting a clean sweep of Britain's major early-summer sprints. Already in their marsupial pouch are the King's Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes from Royal Ascot, wins which can now be sub-titled "Five Days Which Shocked The Racing World".

It was never meant to be this way. When the Perrys arrived at Ascot it was as part of the international curiosities, the cosmopolitan band invited by the course executive to lend this particularly English occasion a broader feel. They were meant to provide colour and adornment, to be the backing singers. Winning was not an option.

Douglas Erskine-Crum, Ascot's chief executive, had pulled himself together sufficiently after Choisir's King's Stand Stakes victory to assess that success as good for the meeting in the round. In the verdant surroundings of his lodge premises, across Ascot High Street, Erskine-Crum was rather buoyed by England's reciprocal win over the Australians at rugby on the Saturday of the Royal meeting. A second win for Choisir, he thought, would be an abuse of hospitality. The chief could not see it happening.

That was to disregard once again the modern sporting prowess of the Antipodes. If there is one thing the Aussies like more than winning, it is winning when the Poms are the vanquished. Choisir had become the first Australian horse to win in Europe and the first beast to win twice at the Royal meeting since Stanerra in 1983.

When Paul Perry stepped on to the tarmac back home he entered a realm of seamless receptions, banquets and parties. Whoever draws the aeroplane seat next to him this evening on his return to England can expect an extremely quiet passage. The Independent spoke to Perry at his yard yesterday and there was a single-word clue that he is not from the school so well represented in British racing. Perry is no Hern, Huntingdon or Stoute. "It's been tremendous, mate," he said after a clearly draining evening. "A wonderful thing for the whole of Australia. It's made me everywhere. I'm just back from an awards night in Melbourne."

As he and his son once promised, Choisir is a striking animal, one you would notice even if he was not the one charging down the track in front of everything else. The four-year-old possesses a Sherman tank chestnut body and sports a white bridle. He has mesh goggles for blinkers, which lend him the appearance of a huge horsefly. This, if you break the description down to its constituent parts, is not entirely inappropriate.

Shannon Perry, who has stayed in Britain to monitor Choisir's wellbeing, said before start of play in Berkshire: "He's a monster of a horse - like a Brahma bull - and Johnny Murtagh will feel the power. I expect him to be hard to catch."

Choisir continues to be stationed at Abington Place, Newmarket, with Geoff Wragg, but with words like that it was easy to imagine he should have been billeted across the Bury Road chez the arch-optimist Clive Brittain. But then Brittain has also surprised us this season.

The vibes now are that Choisir is better than ever. "Shannon says he's done very well and he's very happy with him," Paul Perry said. Another lung-busting effort from the front looks assured up Newmarket's July course from the bat out of hell. Two out of three ain't bad, but his connections have now got the thirst.

Newmarket, like Ascot, should suit Choisir as it provides the straight track on which he runs best. The Perrys got the gavel out after the Royal meeting, but, as yet, there have been no takers. That might change after next Thursday, even if the reception back home will not. "The July Cup would be tremendous," Paul Perry said. "It would send the whole place crazy."

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