Thursday, 8 March 2012
: Top-ten Sydney jockey Tommy Berry is hoping Sunday's Black Opal Stakes ride on Gai Waterhouse flyer Later Gator will be a case of third-time lucky.
| Tommy Berry|
Photo by Racing and Sports
The talented 21-year-old, currently ninth in the NSW metro jockey standings, has ridden in the last two Opals without success but believes he has the horse this year to turn the tables.
In 2010 he piloted Neville Layt juvenile One More Grand
to 10th, and last year he was aboard stablemate Karuta Queen
who ran second after jumping as an unbackable favourite.
Berry has a strong desire to win the capital's flagship race – his girlfriend of four years is the daughter of local trainer John Nisbet and the city has become something of a second home.
“I really like the place,” Berry said.
“It'd be a great thrill to win the Black Opal down there, we always obviously stay there after the races and stay at their [the Nisbets] place for awhile, it'd be really good to win at their home track.
“It hasn't been a great race for me but hopefully we can turn it around.
“I rode One More Grand in 2010 and he'd probably had enough before he got there and Karuta Queen pulled up with a virus and a bit lame after the Black Opal last time.”
This time around Berry is again aboard one of the leading chances, a More Than Ready
filly who won her only race start in early February, dominating a two-year-old maiden at Canterbury.
She hasn't been seen since then, but Berry said the speedster wasn't too far behind powerful Waterhouse quartet Raceway
, No Looking Back
, and expected her to come very close at Canberra.
“She's going to be right in it up to her ears, especially drawing barrier two,” Berry said.
“The wetter the better for her. At Canterbury when she won it was a pretty wet track and she went through it like it was a good track.
“It's going to be a really good field, but if Later Gator's going to be competitive in the Golden Slipper well she's going to have to almost win or be winning on Sunday.
“She's going to have every favour with barrier two and a wet track so she's going to have no excuses.”
Berry has a busy day on Sunday, with a ride in three of the four listed races.
He'll also steer Fille Vilaine
in the Canberra Guineas (1400m), before jumping aboard Fill The Page
in a very competitive Canberra Cup (2000m).
“She's all guts,” Berry said of the Barbara Joseph-Paul Jones mare.
“The day she won at Canterbury she pulled my backside out from the thousand metres and still won quite well.
“Her run the other day was good, second-up over the 1800 so she was still a little bit fresh and got on the bit. They've decided to take the winkers off which I think will help enormous.”