By Ray Hickson
Tom Sherry might have a burgeoning reputation as the next big thing in the apprentice ranks but he says he’s more than happy to stick with the proven path his master, trainer Mark Newnham, set out from the beginning.
It’s been a huge season for Sherry, who had a 4kg claim at his first local ride back at the start of October, and as he heads to Wyong on Thursday he’s greeted the judge first 88 times and is currently leading the NSW provincial premiership with 49 wins.
For the 21-year-old to be staring at a century of wins, competing for less than 10 months of the season, it's been a dream start and he's now not far off his metro debut in Australia, likely next month, but that’s something Newnham is in control of.
“The boss has plans we’ll go to town in July and I’m sure he’ll let me ride some midweeks there and we can hit the ground running next season,’’ Sherry said.
“I’m very happy with the way things are going, I’m not in a rush to get to town and I’m just grateful to get a second chance."
That ‘second chance’ Sherry mentioned refers to a failed drug test back in Ireland and a four year ban handed down by Irish authorities in 2018, it was reduced to 10 months and early last year and he was free to start a new career in Sydney.
It’s been well documented that Sherry started out in Sydney with Bjorn Baker but was quickly recruited by Newnham and set on the same low-key program as his soon to be two time champion apprentice Robbie Dolan.
“From day one he set out a plan for me and it has probably gone better than we thought it would,’’ Sherry said.
“He’s always kept me on the straight and narrow and made sure we work hard and didn’t take anything for granted. When the opportunity comes I’ll make sure I take it with both hands.’’
Newnham reaffirmed his plan for Sherry on Sky Sports Radio this week in response to a groundswell on social media to have the in-form apprentice ride in town sooner rather than later.
Sherry still has more than 20 winners left to outride his 1.5kg provincial claim and Newnham is adamant there is no value in wasting it and stepping onto the big stage where a young rider’s confidence can take a hit quickly.
“It’s a harsh environment riding against the likes of Hugh Bowman and James McDonald so he has to limit the mistakes he makes,’’ Newnham said.
“He’s getting to the point now where yes he is good enough. We held Robbie back the same way and he’s going to win two apprentice titles in a row and hopefully Tom can do the same next season.’’
Not surprisingly, Sherry has ridden more winners for Newnham than any other and the pair combine with Shadow Bridge in the Wyong Rugby League Club Group Handicap (1100m) at Wyong.
Shadow Bridge runs second at Wyong on June 4
The gelding was narrowly beaten over the same course two weeks ago when leading and Sherry said the presence of speedsters like Spaceboy and Archery Butts will make his job a challenge from barrier nine.
“It’s going to be tricky from that barrier,’’ he said.
“He flies the traps and likes to be on speed and from that barrier everyone is going to want to be on speed. It doesn’t look ideal on paper for him.
“He gets a bit frustrated in behind them so if he can’t lead or be outside leader he doesn’t perform to his best.”
Shadow Bridge is a $6.50 chance with TAB while Sherry’s other Wyong rides are La Jolie Fille (race 2, $12), Pure Rubick (race 3, $8.50) and recent Gosford winner Ladies’ Gem (race 6, $10).