By Ray Hickson
The Ranvet Stakes is a match race between defending champ Addeybb and star mare Verry Elleegant, right?
If he wasn’t riding Master Of Wine in the Group 1 $700,000 event, jockey Tommy Berry would say a definitive yes and have a front row seat in the jockeys room to watch the highly anticipated clash at weight-for-age over 2000m.
But he is riding the Team Hawkes-trained mudlark, the horse the TAB market ($9) will tell you is the most likely to cause an upset, and Berry said the six-year-old has the right credentials to win most similar races.
This one, though, is a herculean task.
“He’s got good form over the distance and impeccable wet track form, at Rosehill as well, so he ticks a lot of boxes but so do his two main dangers,’’ Berry said.
“His two best assets are theirs as well so he doesn’t get any advantages over them.
“If you go back to the Queen Elizabeth last year he sat three wide no cover and wasn’t beaten too far by them. He’s a more mature horse now, his run in the Chipping Norton (sixth beaten 2.3 lengths) was encouraging so I can’t see why he won’t run well.
“It’s always exciting to see two great horses go head to head. For us it’s pretty exciting to watch in the jockeys room. There’ll be another 10 jockeys in the room watching it and it’s a great atmosphere when we all get around the TV.”
Run well and beat the world’s best horse in training (Addeybb) and Australia’s flag bearer (Verry Elleegant) are two different things. Then again small fields can throw up surprise results.
While he ran a big race in the Queen Elizabeth at his weight-for-age debut Master Of Wine let plenty of people down in the spring.
However, his supreme performance came just over 12 months ago when he revelled in the heavy 10 conditions to win the Sky High Stakes over the Rosehill 2000m.
“His spring campaign was one to forget, I gave him a bit of a gut buster first-up and he never really recovered after that,’’ Berry said.
“We gave him a nice run first-up, low pressure and wanting to hit the line strongly. The Queen Elizabeth run gives me the confidence he’s up for the challenge.”
Berry is tight lipped on how he might orchestrate an upset if Master Of Wine turns up in his best form.
“I could lead them, who knows, I’m not too sure yet,’’ he said.
“My bloke has raced on the speed before but if anyone thinks we’re going to drop out the back last and that‘s going to be it, well, I wouldn’t say that’s the case.
“The Hawkes stable leave their instructions very open, they don’t tie me down, and if he jumped and showed speed to lead he could be there.”
Tommy Berry’s comments on some of his other Rosehill rides (click here for his Rosehill Guineas mount Mo'unga):
Written Beauty ($3.60, Birthday Card): “She was chucked in the deep end we thought she was ready for it. She’s a very good mare on her day and back to this grade I think we’re just looking for a good performance to give her a bit of confidence again. She’s been on heavy before but it’s going to be a little bit different to what she has been on. Her work has been great, 1200m is a new battle for her as well so she has to relax well enough to get the trip.”
Master Of Wine wins the 2020 Sky High Stakes at Rosehill
Funstar ($4, Agency George Ryder): “She’s been well placed all preparation, two runs into it is perfect for her. She was beaten a very short margin by Verry Elleegant and Colette and that’s very good form going into this. I’m pleased with the way she’s going. Heavy tracks aren’t a problem for her but if it rains heavy on the day like it did in the Golden Eagle she wasn’t a fan of that surface.”
Stay Inside ($5, Longines Golden Slipper): “I was pretty happy to see him get that sort of run (in the Todman) once I found out I was on him. He’s had a faultless preparation, riding him on Tuesday in his work he’s matured a lot since the time I rode him before his first start. You can see why he’s been so easy to handle, you can do anything with him and he’s very much the same in his races. We can have him where we like, he’s performed well on soft ground but I don’t think any of the field have been on very heavy tracks so it’s a new challenge for all of them.”
Dirty Work ($16, Bisley Workwear Galaxy): “I trialled him on a heavy track on Monday and he gave me a great feel but in saying that he wasn’t let off the bridle. He’d prefer better ground but he’s drawn well to get smothered up, which he likes to be, and let off the bit very late. Provided he can get through that section from the 600m-400m, which is where you find a lot of horses start to struggle as the speed goes in the race, if we get to the top of the straight and I’m still on the bridle he’ll be hard to beat.”