Choisir paved the way from Flemington to Ascot
Two decades have passed since trailblazing chestnut sprinter Choisir achieved global fame after taking out the rare King’s Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes double at England’s Royal Ascot carnival in 2003.
These victories led future sprinting stars, including Miss Andretti, Black Caviar and Scenic Blast, to emulate his heroics.
The son of astute Newcastle trainer Paul Perry, the imposing horse’s strapper Shannon Perry learned to ride at age five and caught the racing bug during childhood at the track.
He says the stable knew they had something special on their hands when Choisir trialled and then “bolted in” at his first race start.
The pair’s bond grew during Choisir’s three-year-old campaign when he began climbing Australia’s sprinting ranks. “He was a scallywag with four legs with all the ability in the world, and we were just waiting for him to love his racing and put it together and you knew you had a star,” he said. “I used to hide around the corner at the stables and whistle and he’d put his head around the box wondering what have I got for him: a carrot or a caramel.”
Wayward during his early career, Choisir discovered his niche up the famed Flemington straight, scoring an electric win in the 2003 Lightning Stakes when boldly travelling solo up the inside section with jockey Glen Boss aboard.
Nevertheless, the pioneering international raid on England perhaps holds greater weight due to its ground-breaking nature and the challenges of travelling horses overseas from Australia.
Perry remembers grabbing his father’s top hat and all but throwing it aloft in the air after being overcome with elation when Choisir burned them off in the King’s Stand Stakes.
The delight was replicated just five days later when the grandson of Danehill achieved the coveted double.
These exploits at Royal Ascot paved the way for the likes of Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Scenic Blast, Black Caviar and Nature Strip to represent Australia proudly on one of world racing’s greatest stages.
After a successful career at stud where he produced 12 Group 1 winners including Starspangledbanner, Japonisme and Snapdancer, Choisir passed away in December 2022 at the age of 22. Only one other sprinter, Blue Point, has completed the Royal Ascot sprinting double in the years since.