TOMMY BERRY might have got his first group 1 on Epaulette in the Golden Rose but there is no doubt his victory on Fat Al for Gai Waterhouse in yesterday’s Epsom surpassed his $1 million triumph.
Often racing is not about money but opportunity; that was the case for Berry, who was picked up by Waterhouse as her No.2 rider about 20 months ago.
”That’s unreal,” Berry enthused. ”To win one for Gai after everything she has done for me is fantastic.
”You always remember your first [group 1] but that was better.”
Waterhouse said Berry had given Fat Al a ”perfect” ride as he went to the front and controlled the Randwick mile to draw her equal with her father Tommy Smith on seven Epsom wins. ”Tommy has cottoned on to how we do things very quickly and that was an example of it,” Waterhouse said. ”He is a wonderful young man and deserves that.”
Fat Al, which was beaten as $1.30 in the Shannon Stakes last week, jumped straight to the front and Berry was able to dictate the speed to suit him. It was back to the regular tactics after he took a sit seven days earlier.
”There was huge wind last week and he just buffered all the way and it didn’t help at all,” Waterhouse said. ”He was able to front and get his rhythm out there and Tommy rated him perfectly.”
There was no pressure on Fat Al to lead, with Rolling Pin happy to take a trail. When he loomed up to challenge in the straight, Berry found another gear and then had to hold off a late charge from Ambidexter, which had beaten him in the Theo Marks last month.
Kerrin McEvoy thought he had got the better of Fat Al in the final 100m. ”He just pulled up when he got to the front and stopped,” he said.
Berry got more out of Fat Al and he had a head margin on the post from Ambidexter, with Rolling Pin holding on for third, just in front of Lightinthenite.
”I have to say I was surprised with how easy I got it in the middle stages,” Berry said. ”Everyone was querying the run last week but Gai had trained him to the minute for this race and he was always going to be very hard to get past.”
It put right what had been a bad day for Waterhouse, who had seen Proisir and Urban Groove beaten as favourite in the Spring Champion and Flight Stakes.
The middle stages took the swoopers out of the race, and both John O’Shea and Grahame Begg, who trained fourth Lightinthenite and fifth Secret Admirer respectively, lamented the speed.
”They just didn’t go hard enough,” O’Shea said. ”He tried hard but the leaders went too easy … just look where the horses that finished in front of him were in the run.”
Begg added about last winner Secret Admirer: ”She was able to get into the race because they went too slow.”
Gwenda Markwell said Rolling Pin could be freshened up and taken to Melbourne for a race like the Salinger on Derby Day.
”He is going great and tried very hard,” Markwell said. ”I would love to take him to Melbourne and get in one of those sprints down the straight.”
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