Classy Joe wins the TAB Handicap at Morphettville (Atkins Photography)
There are a lot of reasons why we breed racehorses … the hardest part is finding out what rhymes.
Take, for instance, the John Hickmott bred/trained/part-owned, Classy Joe, winner of Saturday’s TAB Handicap over 2006m at Morphettville.
After a major setback as a 3YO, the now 6YO is really starting to hit his straps, winning three of his last four and not finishing out of the money at his last seven outings.
Thing is, Classy Joe only really starts to get warm over 2000m or greater and here comes the (non) rhyming part. Classy Joe is by the speed source Danerich, a multiple stakes winner by Danehill, who has gone on to produce Group winning sprinters such as, Rich Charm, Richie’s Vibe and Lord of the Sky. Indeed, six of the seven stakes winners courtesy of the Rangal Park based stallion have earned their black type from 1000m to 1200m.
One of those stakes winners was the Hickmott trained, Classy Chloe (7 wins to 1300m, including the Listed Durbridge Stakes), another is the Group Two placed, Classy Jack (11 wins to 1200m), while yet another of his ‘flyers’ – Classy Jaybee – was a city winner last month for Hickmott and has since been sold to Hong Kong.
“I’ve trained all four of the Danerichs out of the Brocco mare, Capital Growth,” Hickmott explains. “She’s produced six winners of 38 races and the three that looked like Danerich were very fast, but Classy Joe has thrown more to the dam and is much more similar to Capital Growth’s first foal, the High Yield galloper, Southern Fortune, who won seven races for the stable from 1950m to 2400m.”
Not that we ever got to see Capital Growth race.
Bred by Melbourne based dentist, Chris Gliddon, Capital Growth is a half sister to multiple Group winner and Group One placed 2YO, Hey Pronto, but was untried at the track and then failed to capture the imagination of buyers when her initial foals made it to the sales ring.
“Capital Growth’s first five yearlings, including Classy Chloe, never even attracted a single bid,” Gliddon reveals. “John (Hickmott) approached me after the first foal, Southern Fortune had been passed in and he went on to win seven races for him.
“Trainers like to stick with families they know and when Classy Chloe was passed in, John approached me again and this time I kept a share.”
Shortly after that though, Gliddon would also sell Capital Growth to Hickmott and she would go on to produce Classy Jack, Classy Joe, Classy Jaybee and an unraced 3YO, Classy Kenny – all by Danerich – but the mare died in 2019.
Fortunes have changed for Gliddon, however, who secured Classy Chloe for breeding purposes when her racing days were done and dusted.
A breeder for the last 40 years with highlights including 5-time stakes winner, Begone and the aforementioned, Richie’s Vibe, Gliddon sold Classy Chloe’s third foal – a near black colt by Brazen Beau – to Godolphin for $625,000 at the 2019 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale.
“I wanted to sell the Brazen Beau colt in Melbourne but he was rejected and I thought ‘here we go again’,” Gliddon recalls. “Magic Millions said they’d take him and he ended up making very good money on the Gold Coast.
“The colt is called, Conceited, and he won at Flemington on debut last December before finishing third behind Away Game in the ($2 million) Magic Millions 2YO Classic in January. His spring campaign will begin very soon and I hold high hopes for him.
“Classy Chloe’s Pride of Dubai filly made $150,000 at the Melbourne Premier this year, she’s got a Pride of Dubai filly heading to the sales in 2021 and she’ll be covered by Dundeel this spring.”
Hickmott, meanwhile, is hoping Classy Joe can add to his impressive tally of six wins and six placings from 28 starts for $120,525 in stakes: some of which may well have been spent on something to settle the nerves on Saturday night.
In a fighting finish at Morphettville, Classy Joe edged ahead of Andrea Mantegna when it counted, but then had to withstand a protest levelled against the winning jockey, Jeffrey Maund, for excessive whip use. Maund would subsequently be suspended for four meetings, but much to the delight of Team Hickmott, the actual protest was dismissed.
With around 30 in work, Hickmott has been a trainer for 40 years and is father to dual Melbourne Cup winning trainer, Rob (Almandin, Green Moon) and fellow Murray Bridge trainer, Michael. John’s eldest son, Ken, passed away in 2017.
“My father was a greyhound trainer and I left school at 14 to work as a drover,” Hickmott points out. “I’ve always loved being around horses – any animals for that matter – and started out with a stable at Wangaratta.
“I moved to Murray Bridge in 1990 and been fortunate to have a few good ones along the way like Pay Keys (2003 Group Two Sandown Guineas), Frenzel Rhomb (4-time stakes winner and over $500,000 in stakes) and an old favourite of mine called Dusty Springs who won 26 races.
“We’ve bred most of the horses we race, but bought a few at the sales this year for Rob’s operation in Victoria. I’ve had over 500 winners and the stable won in excess of $1 million in stakes last year.”
Past successes aside, Hickmott clearly has a soft spot for his most recent ‘Classy’ winner.
“He (Classy Joe) is just a good honest horse,” Hickmott adds. “He was a rig and had to have quite invasive surgery to correct the problem as a 3YO. That put him off the scene for over 12 months, but in the 22 runs since he’s been back, he’s finished in the top four on 15 occasions.
“He’s just turned six, but is sound as a bell and I wouldn’t be surprised if you still see him racing as a 10YO.”