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Byrne trims kilos in Chase for Group 1 with in-form 3-year-old

5 min read
Top rider Jim Byrne is hungry for success in Saturday’s G1 TAB Stradbroke H. and a leaner version of the leading Queensland jockey is hoping his more than usual frugal approach of the past fortnight will bring a major reward.

Byrne will continue his association with the in-form Apache Chase (Better Than Ready) in the Stradbroke and, in his customary professional way, will partner the 3-year-old at the flyweight of 50.5kg.

Connections agreed he could ride the Desleigh Forster-trained prospect 1kg over the book weight of 49.5kg and what little excess Byrne could shed, he has done so in a measured manner to do Apache Chase and his other rides justice.

“I always knew what I was in for, I’ve done it before and every jockey is the same. You just have to do the hard yards and hopefully your body will release what it’s got to release,” he said.

“It’s basically picking up the workload and making sure I’m not too drawn out and keeping up the food as much as you possibly can. I’m in a pretty good place.

“On Friday morning I was 50.5kg so, for me, that was where I really needed to be. I’ll have a little sweat and a meal on Friday night so therefore I should be fit and have plenty of strength for the weekend.”

“I’ll have a little sweat and a meal on Friday night so therefore I should be fit and have plenty of strength for the weekend.” – Jim Byrne

A daily exercise routine of swimming and walking has Byrne comfortably down to his target weight.

“For myself, it wasn’t always about Apache Chase. I’ve got Warning going into the Q22 and I’ve got some other really good rides on the day,” he said.

“I have to do the right thing by everyone, not just that one horse’s connections and Desleigh. It has to be for everyone.

“You can’t just lay your hat on one horse, I’ve still got to perform for the rest and hopefully we’ll all have a good day.”

Byrne had to shed 3.5kg to ride Apache Chase and has slightly changed his pre-Saturday routine.

“I generally don’t eat on a Friday night and that’s to ride 54kg. I’ll get to the races around 53.5kg and I don’t usually feel too good when I eat before the races and don’t feel the same,” he said.

“When you do drop this sort of weight though, your body does need fuel to burn so I’m being smart and will have a light meal to get me through the day.”

“When you do drop this sort of weight though, your body does need fuel to burn so I’m being smart and will have a light meal to get me through the day.” – Jim Byrne

Byrne has been aboard Apache Chase in his last five appearances and has learned to let the gelding go about his business in his own way.

“He’s a free-running horse and he does have his little traits and likes to jump out and run those quick times mid-race,” he said. “While there is no real key to the horse, you still have to know him to run those times and if you think he’s going too quick, it is the right speed for this horse.

“That’s his make-up and very early on when I jumped on him I thought we can really make him a decent horse.

“By a decent horse, I mean really bring him up to one of Australia’s better sprinters by teaching him to switch off and come back off the speed runners and settle him in that second or third pair.

“Ultimately, I was reading him wrong and he’s a horse that likes to free roll and loves to run time and has a high-cruising speed. If you tend go a bit slower, you’re just not working with the horse. He likes to do his own thing so you just have to work with him.”

Apache Chase (red silks) | Image courtesy of Michael McInally

Apache Chase will be bidding to become just the fourth 3-year-old in the last two decades to upstage his older opposition in Queensland’s flagship event on Saturday.

He will face a stiff task to add his name to a select group of second-season gallopers to have landed the Stradbroke, but is in the right form to make the most of his pull in the weights.

Apache Chase has won two of his last three starts after success in the Listed Daybreak Lover and most recently downed the highly-regarded Ayrton (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}) in the G3 Fred Best Classic.

The last 3-year-old to win the Stradbroke was Sincero (Umatilla) in 2011 with Private Steer (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) in 2003 and La Montagna (Monashee Mountain {USA}) in 2006 the only others to have taken major honours in the last 20 years.

Freedman commitments

Byrne also has four important riding engagements for the Anthony and Sam Freedman stable, combining with Delphi (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), Warning (Declaration Of War {USA}), King Of Hastings (Ilovethiscity) and Lyre (Lonhro).

He will also partner Three Wise Men (Divine Prophet) for Edward Cummings in the G1 Treasury Brisbane JJ Atkins.

Delphi will be making his Australian debut in the Listed Radio TAB The Wayne Wilson and there will be plenty of interest in the former Aidan O’Brien-trained 4-year-old. He has won four of his five starts, including the G3 Irish St Leger Trial.

Warning returned to his best form in Byrne’s hands when they were successful last time out in the G3 Chairman’s H. ahead of tackling boom horse Zaaki (GB) (Leroidesanimaux {Brz}) in the G2 Sky Racing Q22.

King Of Hastings runs in the Listed Jim Beam Hinkler H. and while unplaced when resuming in the Listed Chief De Beers, he has twice won second-up.

Lyre takes aim at the G2 Magic Millions Dane Ripper S. and while she hasn’t won since claiming the G1 Blue Diamond S. as a juvenile, the 4-year-old has run numerous placings in the meantime including two at the top level in the Robert Sangster S. and The Goodwood.

Jim Byrne
Stradbroke H.
Desleigh Forster
Apache Chase