By Ray Hickson
It didn’t take a lot of viewings of the Golden Gift for Tommy Berry to want to ride promising filly Cellsabeel wherever she went next.
And after putting in some leg work to secure the ride Berry can’t wait to see what she’ll produce in the Iron Jack Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Cellsabeel, trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, made an eye-catching debut fourth behind Dame Giselle in the $1m Golden Gift back in November – a run that stuck out to Berry.
“She’s a lovely filly, I chased to get on her after watching her run in the Golden Gift,’’ he said.
“For a horse to come from the position she did, she ran home in good time, everything suggested she was very raw and had improvement there.
“She only has to improve a bit to be up there with the better ones.’’
In running fourth Cellsabeel produced the fastest last 600m of 33.27 (Punter's Intelligence) in the Golden Gift and in doing so she covered more ground than any other runner (+6.9m) and she ran 11.32 for the last 200m, second fastest of the race behind the winner.
Berry knows something about ‘the better ones’ when it comes to this season’s two-year-olds having partnered the previously unbeaten Aim who started favourite in last week’s Magic Millions.
Cellsabeel is on a path to the $2m Inglis Millennium (1100m) on February 8 at Warwick Farm and a first-up win would likely see her assume top spot in TAB’s market as she’s second elect at $7 behind Dame Giselle, an unlikely runner.
“Aim is the only horse that has won by a margin, I think they have been an even bunch so far,’’ Berry said.
“The Magic Millions winner was impressive but was it the best two-year-old field we’ve seen? I’m not sure.
“Nothing has jumped out at me quite yet, Aim was the best one I’ve ridden so far but we never got to see the best of him the way the track played.’’
Dame Giselle also holds favouritism for the $3.5m Golden Slipper on March 21, the Maher/Eustace filly sits on the $26 line.
One variable most of the youngsters face at Rosehill is some moisture in the ground, in Cellsabeel’s case her pedigree suggests she’ll be okay – she’s by Hinchinbrook who ran second to Hay List in a Group 1 on a heavy track from Our Egyptian Raine, a New Zealand heavy track winner and multiple Group 1 placed on soft ground.
“I don’t think many two-year-olds this season have seen a wet track,’’ Berry said.
“You don’t know if they handle it without going around and if you get to the Slipper, which is renowned for being a wet track, you’re going to want to know.’’
Cellsabeel wins a trial at Randwick on January 9
Berry has ridden Cellsabeel in trackwork and in both trials leading into Rosehill, where she was $3.10 second elect with TAB on Thursday, and is adamant she’s a filly of quality and one that can adapt to race tempo.
“I did a bit of work on her when she came back in and she impressed me, she trialled the first time without the blinkers and she seemed to get a bit lost and wasn’t putting it all together,’’ he said.
“They put the blinkers on her and it sharpened her right up and I was pleased to see her put herself in a handier position and was able to put them away comfortably.
“She’s doing everything right thus far and she seems she has a bit of quality.
“Like any two-year-old this time of year they have to start stepping up, putting their hand up and suggesting they are contenders for the bigger races.’’