Jordan Childs sits victorious aboard Surprise Baby after last Saturday’s Gr.3 Bart Cummings (2520m). Photo credit: Darryl Sherer
The prospect of partnering Kiwi-bred stayer Surprise Baby in next month’s Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) is enough to make a gruelling few weeks well worthwhile for jockey Jordan Childs.
The tall 23-year-old usually rides at 55kg or higher, but will have to drop to 53.5kg to ride the son of Shocking at Flemington on November 5.
However, he is well and truly up for that challenge – especially after Surprise Baby’s powerful victory in last Saturday’s Gr.3 Bart Cummings (2500m), which has promoted him to Cup favouritism.
“It is a bit under my normal weight, but opportunities like this don’t come around all that often,” Childs said. “I definitely had no hesitation in deciding to give it a crack, and I’m confident I can do it.”
The winner of five of his 10 starts and more than A$720,000, headed by the Gr.2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) in March, Surprise Baby has become a remarkable success story after being purchased for just $5,500 off gavelhouse.com.
Childs, who has been aboard for half of the Rich Hill Stud graduate’s career appearances, has been as impressed as anyone.
“He’s an exciting horse,” he said. “Paul Preusker has done a great job with him, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
“The first time I won on him was at Horsham last December. Even then, he gave me a really good feel. It’s a very tight track there. I gave him a squeeze coming up to the home turn, and he suddenly got up a huge amount of speed. He almost ran off at the corner, he was going that quick.
“When you win a race at that sort of level and that sort of track, you never seriously think about going on to win the races that he has, or running in a Melbourne Cup. But he always felt like a nice horse, and one I hoped I could continue to ride.
“Saturday was an absolutely super win. He travelled into it beautifully and was really dominant in the finish.”
Childs rode in the Melbourne Cup last year, partnering the Mike Moroney-trained Sound Check and finished in the second half of the field.
Childs himself has a strong racing pedigree. His father Greg was a champion apprentice jockey in New Zealand in the 1979-80 season who went on to win a host of feature races in New Zealand over the next decade, before moving to Melbourne in 1990.
Childs senior is best known for his partnership with the champion Kiwi mare Sunline, who he rode in 22 of her 32 wins. A two-time premiership winner in Melbourne, he retired with 72 Group One victories to his name and notched in excess of 2100 wins.
Jordan Childs is also a cousin of accomplished Kiwi horsemen Mark, Lance and Alex Forbes.
Childs has already made his own mark in the saddle, riding 475 winners since beginning his career in the 2012-13 season. His biggest win to date came aboard Written By in the Gr.1 Blue Diamond (1200m) at Caulfield in February of last year.
While Surprise Baby is clearly Childs’ pin-up mount for this spring, he is also keeping tabs on another Preusker-trained stayer with a Kiwi connection.
The Irish-bred Torcedor was bought at Deauville by Te Akau principal David Ellis, and he carried the tangerine colours to victories in the Gr.3 Vintage Crop Stakes (2800m) and Sagaro Stakes (3200m) and placings in the Gr.1 Ascot Gold Cup (4000m), Irish St Leger (2800m) and Goodwood Cup (3200m).
Now raced by a syndicate headed by Australian Bloodstock, the Fastnet Rock eight-year-old is also on a Melbourne Cup path.
“It’s an exciting position for Paul (Preusker) to be in,” Childs said. “Torcedor is another very nice horse.
“I went out to Werribee on Wednesday to ride him in a gallop at the quarantine centre. He sat a couple of lengths behind another horse in that gallop, then finished it off really strongly.
“His last couple of starts up in Europe weren’t that flash and were a bit below his best form, but I think he might have turned a corner now. He feels really good.
“Paul is confident he’ll get a start in the Cup. I’m not sure whether he’ll have another run anywhere before then.
“If he goes straight into the Cup without a lead-up race, I’ll definitely be on Surprise Baby for that. But if Torcedor has a race somewhere beforehand, I’d love the opportunity to have a ride on him as well.”