By Ray Hickson
The ride on an exciting colt, the chance to atone for a couple of luckless defeats and a test of his skill await jockey Tommy Berry at Rosehill on Saturday.
Chief among his enviable selection of rides, which include four pre-post favourites, is the emerging youngster Exceedance in the Sporting Chance Foundation Handicap (1100m), the winner of which will stamp themselves a likely spring prospect.
“Everyone gets carried away with horses winning impressively at their first start and this bloke is probably in that category,’’ Berry said.
“But he went against what you can usually do at Wyong, it wasn’t his track, so there are plenty of positives this week and getting to the bigger track is the main one.
“He has the run under his belt, he’s obviously up against a field with more depth, he’s going to have to step up again but I believe he can do so.’’
In that Wyong debut Exceedance ran the fastest last 200m of the day in 11.38 (Punter's Intelligence) and was still an amazing 20m off the leader with just over 200m to run.
The colt has attracted steady support with TAB since he opened at $6 on Wednesday to be commanding favourite at $3.30 a day later and Berry said he’s a typical product of the Hawkes stable’s patience.
“You see with the Hawkes’s year in year out, it’s a trademark of theirs to give their horses plenty of time and that’s why you see them bring out some nice ones in the winter time,’’ he said.
“He’s a lovely style of horse and has a great temperament. There looks to be a decent amount of speed for him and he’s going to be charging home late.’’
Now to the atonement section of Berry’s day and he’s keen to see Reelem In Ruby go one better than her narrow defeat two weeks ago in the Dad & Dave’s Turf Handicap (1400m) and Wagner have the luck that deserted him at Scone in the Living Turf Handicap (1100m).
Reelem In Ruby will go to the post as favourite ($2.40) for the fourth consecutive start and Berry is adamant a bump on the corner cost him victory last start.
“She was next to the stablemate who pushed her out four and five wide on the corner,’’ he said.
“She was in the one-one and should have only been three wide so she had to cover that extra bit of ground.
“She got a hefty bump at that stage so it took her quite a while to get balanced up, that’s why I sat on her for so long, and she charged home late.’’
The Punter’s Intelligence data shows the 400m-200m section was crucial, while Reelem In Ruby was in strife she could only run 11.18 against the winner Strome who sprinted in 10.97 and established the winning break.
“She definitely hasn’t taken a step backward so I’d be disappointed if she’s not fighting out the finish,’’ Berry said.
Punters endured a horror movie watching Berry try to weave Wagner ($4.80) into the clear at Scone but the Godolphin three-year-old found plenty of walls and finished 11th behind Akasaki.
Berry is adamant he finishes top three if he gets into the clear so is looking for the chance to back that statement up with a fair crack on Saturday.
“Coming to the corner he dropped the bit for about 50m and the gaps were there but by the time I got to them I had nowhere to go,’’ he said.
Check out the stewards vision of Wagner's run at Scone
“He would have run really well, whether he would have beaten the winner I don’t know but he’d have gone close.
“If we can get a good run from a good draw, there looks to be a bit of speed and he will be in the money for sure.’’
Luck will come into play on hot favourite Kapajack ($2.30) in the Hi Quality Turf Handicap (1300m) but the outside barrier will also be a steering challenge for Berry.
He’s a horse the popular jockey has plenty of time for and said Kapajack has come on since his first-up second behind Zonk a month ago where he ran a dazzling 32.79 for the last 600m.
“It’s going to be tricky from out there but he’s a horse on the way up,’’ he said.
“He ran nice first-up and it was always going to be hard to catch the winner when it’s running home in 33, and he probably ran out of a bit of condition, but he’s a horse I think is better than a winter Saturday horse in Sydney.’’
So what will Berry do from the outside alley at the tricky starting point?
“The Hawkes team are always happy for me to take my time when we’re drawn wide and not rush to make a decision,’’ he said.
“We’ll aim to be midfield and if we’re wide we’ll come back. He’s definitely not a horse you can put on the speed so he’s going to be in that midfield to back and will need luck either way.’’
Among Berry’s other rides, which include Highway favourite Our Echo, he singled out Poetic Charmer as a horse he’s keen to partner on Saturday.