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Past the Post: Tommy Berry, Guineas and the Slipper

(AAP Image/Julian Simth)
Roar Guru
5th March, 2017
4

Tommy Berry showed the racing world that he is one of the best in the business with a clinic at Randwick, Hey Doc stamped himself as the best three-year-old in Victoria (for now), and while up north at Eagle Farm, did we see the Slipper winner? All that, and much more to be discussed.

Sir Tommy Berry at Royal Randwick
I will be one to put my hand up and said that during the latter part of the Spring and Summer, I thought Tommy was in a real form slump and wasn’t producing the rides that we have seen from him previously. But the recent Group 1 success at Hong Kong on Helene Paragon has sparked him into form and that was seen in bucketloads at Randwick on Saturday.

He told stewards before the Reisling he wanted to come to the outside fence on Frolic, believing it was better ground. Proved correct as she sprouted wings to nail the Slipper favourite She Will Reign. Then backed that up with a win aboard Rocket Commander as well as a couple of world class rides in the Group 1s which I’ll discuss, but make no mistake. Tommy Berry could be the jockey to follow for the Carnival.

Randwick Guineas: Team Hawkes Again
The Hawkes camp are one of the best in the business at training a three-year-old colt for a feature race, and they proved it once again here via Inference, though somewhat of a bonus really, considering the horse will be much better suited at 2000 metres and beyond, which is something co-trainer Michael Hawkes said post race. Another peach from Tommy. Found the outside fence and the horse sprouted wings over the final 250m to nail Invincible Gem.

That filly has done an amazing job. Go back to the start of the prep, back in November, and she was only just breaking her maiden in a weak Canterbury event. Now she’s a Stakes winner and Group 1 placed. That speaks volumes of how good trainer Kris Lees is.

Comin’ Through had his chance. May have been in the inferior ground compared to the first two, but he was good still. Doncaster can be ruled out now. He’s a Guineas/Derby horse for sure now off that.

Australian Guineas: Hey Doc Ticks the 1600 Box
I was very wary about Hey Doc running a strong 1600m against a quality bunch of three-year-olds, that included his victor in the Caulfield Guineas and the Derby winner. But despite some things going his way, he was strong at the end of the race and a well deserved major for Tony McEvoy and Luke Currie, both of which work very hard for success and they got their Group 1 on Saturday.

Negative Nelly time: The fence was red hot for the meeting, and the winner did get the dream run through after getting the suck run behind the speed. Not taking anything away from him, it was a strong win. But brilliant? Spectacular? And even a Doncaster chance? No… just no.

Of the rest, Prized Icon is ticking over beautifully for the Guineas/Derby. The one though that caught the attention of most was Anaheim. He really closed off his race with purpose and is already confirmed as a starter for the Guineas/Derby. He is the one with really good upside and is in the right stable.

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The Golden Slipper
I’ve been harping on for a number of weeks that about how I think She Will Reign is a massive risk in the Slipper and the run in the Reisling yesterday vindicated my thoughts. I’ll concede she wasn’t entirely happy in the going, but I thought she still had her chance, and as a $1.40 favourite and $2.80 favourite for the Slipper, I was expecting more.

Beat the others out of sight, but look at the others… outside maybe From Within, they’re scrubbers.

We didn’t see the Slipper winner in the Todman. Gunnison was good, as was stablemate Invader, but they took care of Veranillio comfortably, and he finished behind She Will Reign in the Silver Slipper. That form just looks very suspect to my eye. Menari was a big flop and I’ll be shocked if he wins come Slipper time.

The favourite should be the speedy Queenslander Houtzen. She carried 63kg at Eagle Farm over 1000m and just absolutely toyed with them, winning by a space under minimal pressure and ran 0.3 seconds quicker than the other 1000m races for the afternoon. Admittedly, the time was nothing flash and the standard of sprint gallopers in Queensland is thin, but that’s still a good box to tick. The big key for is that she has won a brutal 1200m race and burnt the candle at both ends – the Magic Millions.

The other key race was the Black Opal at Canberra on Sunday, where we saw somewhat of a surprise winner with Trapeze Artist sitting on speed and powering right away. The eye catcher from the Slipper point of view was clearly Trekking. Just did so much wrong in the straight but once balanced up he really attacked the line. Set of blinkers and he’s right on target.

Le Romain gets due plaudits
He keeps being touted as an underrated horse. Well, that can be put to bed now, because he is a three-time Group 1 winner having won the Canterbury Stakes (1300m). Chautauqua, before yesterday, hadn’t taken the lead and got headed, but when he got a neck clear of Le Romain, the Kris Lees-trained galloper just would not surrender and lunged hard to get the win right on the peg.

As for Chautauqua’s ride? Given the circumstances, it was very good. The horse was not interested early on, so Tommy had no other choice but to hug the rail. He peeled wider when clear of runners and hit the front, and that’s probably what has cost the horse the win – hitting the front too early.

This George Ryder is shaping up to be one of the best races of the modern era.

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But back to Le Romain, and that man Kris Lees. His strike rate at Group 1 level in the past 12 months is extraordinary. When he targets these big races, he rarely leaves empty handed, and in my mind, he just sits behind Chris Waller and Darren Weir as the best trainer in Australia right now.

Horses to follow and forgive
Glenall: Still eligible for much easier. He’s going to be a beauty in 6-12 months’ time.

Nancy: Big weight and a wet track beat her. Her effort was very good.

Dal Cielo: Doesn’t go a yard on wet tracks. Last 50m was okay. Don’t drop off.

Song And Laughter: Had no right to finish as close as she did, given how hard she pulled. A win is close for her.

Liapari: Given the tempo and bias, his run was the black booker for the entire day. If he backs up next week in the 90 over 1800m, butter up.

Happy Hannah: Ripping return in an unsuitable race. Could be a Group 1 in her, maybe Queen Of The Turf.

Inside Agent: Pulled up very sore after yesterday, don’t judge him on that.

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Theanswermyfriend/Tribal Wisdom: The former did a remarkable job to fight like he did and Tribal Wisdom was only having his second start. Follow with confidence.

Horses to forget
She Will Reign: As I’ve been saying, a speed horse who was found out at 1200m on Saturday. Same thing will happen Slipper Day.

Honesty Prevails: Barrier trial star. That’s all she is.

Ugo Foscolo: Might be better off auditioning as Donkey for a Shrek movie.