Well placed: Tommy Berry is looking forward to spring with Libertini and Pierata, among others. (Image: AAP)

Berry plans spring around his stars and looks for more

August 15th 2019

Tommy Berry has his spring rides – the likes of Libertini and Pierata are already marked in his diary. Exceedance and Kluger add further talent to his potential rides in the next couple of months, but where he will be remains less clear.

What has usually been a well-worn path through the spring from Sydney to Melbourne has changed this year. The nine straight weeks of million-dollar races have Berry and his fellow top-line riders having to choose between the racing capitals right through November.

“Someone asked when I’m getting to Melbourne [for the spring carnival] the other day and I answered, ‘Where is the spring now?’” Berry said. “You used to base yourself in Melbourne for a long time around [Victoria] Derby day, but now there are choices to be made.

“It comes down to what rides you have, really. I have a few nice ride there and hopefully there are a couple more to come. Libertini and Pierata are the main two at the moment.”

The strength of his Golden Eagle ride will determine where Berry will be on Victoria Derby day, traditionally the strongest day of racing in the spring.

He has a program for Libertini through to the Flight Stakes on the October long weekend, and Pierata is his ride for the $14 million Everest at Randwick on October 19, which will mean he spends the majority of the spring at home in Sydney.

It is where he was second in the jockeys’ premiership last season and has made his name before riding around the world. The strength of the riding ranks has him working hard, riding trackwork several mornings a week.

“It is the strongest competition in the world. If you are not working hard, going to trackwork, you don’t get the opportunities,” Berry said. “It is a bit different for me now because I have no stable links and you get more offers because of that.

“I want to finish in the top five riders again next year and would love to challenge for the premiership but I have to make up about 30 wins on James McDonald, which is tough.”

As the racing moves from its winter daze into the warmth of spring, Berry is looking for his next star to emerge on Spring Preview day at Randwick’s Kensington track on Saturday.

He was impressed by the winning debut of Pandemic at Wyong last month and believes he can step up to Saturday grade against a handy field on Saturday.

“It has been a good program for three-year-olds to go from the provincials to Sydney on Saturday in recent times, if they are good enough,” Berry said. “He has plenty of talent but he is still a bit immature, and going to the races can help them. He could be one to watch and I think he will develop in a nice horse for later in the spring.

”At this time of year you are looking for these horses to come through and you don’t know when the next one might step up.”

He reunites with Winter Challenge winner Seaway, which is looking for back-to-back wins as favourite in the Spring Preview, which sets up well for him to box seat.

“He has enough speed to put himself in the perfect spot and follow the likes of Cradle Mountain and Fabrizio,” Berry said. “He showed last time that these sort of races really set up well for him and I can see him going forward once again and being in the finish.”

He is booked for Wu Gok, which is looking for the hat-trick of wins in the Premier’s Cup Prelude, and Natalia gives him another quality chance for the afternoon.

“Natalia was disappointing last time but I think she is definitely up to Saturday grade. Wu Gok is in good form and this race is no stronger,” Berry said.

– Chris Root, The Sydney Morning Herald