Berry snatches narrow premiership lead
Tommy Berry has surged to the lead in the Sydney jockeys’ premiership with a winning treble at Randwick, highlighted by a feature race win on Bandersnatch.
The top jockey, who turned 30 on Thursday, has been in fine touch, also snaring a double at Canterbury on Friday night.
He has made no secret of his desire to make a play for championship honours and his haul on Saturday took him to 55 wins for the season, two clear of James McDonald.
McDonald had a winless start to the day at Randwick before he was stood down after the sixth race with a recurring right elbow issue.
While Berry has his eye on the major end-of-season prize, he knows there is a long way to go.
“The jockey ranks in Sydney….are so strong, so to be where I am at the moment, I am blessed and I am getting a lot of great support and getting the results for everyone, which is nice to see,” Berry said.
“But don’t worry, James – he’ll be back to get me.
“We are only halfway through and James can ride five (winners) on a day so I am not counting my chickens yet.”
Berry took out the two editions of the Highway Handicap on Art Cadeau and The First Of May before adding the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) aboard Bandersnatch for Team Hawkes.
Bandersnatch joined the Hawkes yard at the start of his current campaign and after kicking off with a Moonee Valley win, he followed up with two minor placings.
Hawkes said the four-year-old’s record for them should read even better.
“He’s done a fantastic job. He’s had four runs and to be truthful, they probably should have been four wins,” Hawkes said.
“It (Carrington) wasn’t the strongest stakes race of all time but it’s here and it’s about putting horses in races where they’re suited.
“It was a perfect race for this horse with no weight.”
Berry put Bandersnatch ($2.50 fav) in a trailing position and once he levelled up with Quackerjack ($19), who had raced to the front, the gelding put paid to his rival to score by three-quarters of a length.
Thy Kingdom Come ($17) did his best work late another half-length away.
Hawkes was unsure of immediate plans for Bandersnatch but said they might try to find another similar race for him while he was fit and in form.
However, he believes the horse’s best is still ahead.
“Even next prep, now that we’ve had a prep with him, you will see a better horse again,” Hawkes said.
“He’s a happy horse. He is a lovely horse to have around the stable, he is quiet, he’s good and he’s only getting better.
“We might just try to find another race while he’s fit.”