Tommy Berry is only hours away from his biggest moment in the saddle but the young jockey is showing no signs of nerves.
In a short time Tommy Berry has risen from the apprentice ranks to become one of Sydney's leading riders and on Saturday, he partners one of the shortest priced Golden Slipper favourites in recent memory, the Gai Waterhouse trained filly Overreach who is currently quoted at $2.40 with tab.com.au.
Confidence is a big ingredient for jockeys when it comes to major races, and Berry not only has plenty of it when it comes to his own ability, but more importantly, he has bucket loads in the ability of his ride for the world’s richest race for two-year-olds.
No two-year-old has dominated juvenile racing this season like Overreach has by winning the Widden Stakes at Rosehill by almost 6 lengths and the Reisling Stakes by more than 4.
Berry has been on her back in both her career wins, and as a sign of huge faith from both trainer and owners, he keeps the ride that he has well and truly earned.
What is most impressive about her two wins in Sydney is the way she has been able to put her opposition away with a dazzling turn of foot. Only the good ones put a gap in their rivals in a few strides and looking at her competition, none have that attribute to really test her on Saturday.
Villa Verde, second favourite for a short time after chasing Overreach in the Reisling Slipper trial, has drifted further down the order to sit sixth in the order of betting at $15. She of course is the only one to have beaten the favourite but that was almost six months ago in the Inglis debutante at Caulfield in October.
Villa Verde still looks a class act but Overreach has improved lengths.
The Canberra Black Opal form has proved to be very good with the first two over the line, Criterion and Sidestep, both winning at their next starts in important lead up races to the Slipper.
Criterion ($13) swept home to beat Blue Diamond Stakes runner up Fast And Rocking in the Todman Slipper Trial, while Sidestep ($9), after losing Corey Brown at the start of the Todman and taking no part, quickly made amends a week later in the Pago Pago to score a dominant win.
Both are classy colts but neither have the dash and brilliance of the reigning favourite.
The dangers to Overreach, if they can be called that, are her two stablemates, Sweet Idea ($11) and Whittington ($21). Sweet Idea relished the heavy conditions winning the Silver Slipper on March 2 while Whittington, the Breeders Plate winner back in October, bounced back from his Canonbury defeat on February 16, with a win at Warwick Farm in the Lonhro Plate on March 9.
It’s rare that I go out on a limb in a major Group 1 race, but I think Overreach is a special, to beat Sidestep, Whittington and Sweet Idea.
G3 - The Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Steeple Chase
G2 - Prix Raoul Balliere
G2 - Prix Ariste Hemard
G3 - Victress Stakes
G2 - Premier Trophy