It's with great sadness that I write this preview of the weekend's racing following the sad passing of jockey Nathan Berry on Thursday. The last time I saw Nathan was at a birthday party for a mutual friend at Rosehill earlier this year.
Nathan had just won the Magic Millions at the Gold Coast and had every reason to be excited about the year ahead. He struck me as a young man with the world at his feet, as he told me about his year ahead that would see him marry his sweetheart Whitney and take his career overseas for new challenges.
I can't imagine the sense of loss his family must be feeling. I hope they can find some comfort in the touching tributes the racing world is paying to Nathan.
Despite a worrying week for Darley trainer Peter Snowden, top filly Earthquake ($2.40 with tab.com.au) can still win Saturday's Golden Slipper at Rosehill. As recently as last Sunday the filly was battling an elevated temperature - usually a disastrous diagnosis less than a week before the highest pressure 2 year old race in the world.
But all is not lost. Earthquake has responded well to treatment over the last few days and looks to have shaken off any signs of illness. Her strong gallop on Wednesday morning suggests the Earthquake we will see on Saturday resembles the star filly that won the Blue Diamond Stakes in February.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy drew gate 13 for Earthquake during the week and although not ideal, Kerrin believes he can use the fillies natural dash to have her positioned in the first 5 or 6 in running before unleashing her explosive finish.
At a healthy price, Gai Waterhouse's smart colt Valentia ($21) can sneak into the Slipper placings. The colt by Fastnet Rock has only been to the races 3 times and already recorded 2 wins including his last start victory in the Skyline Stakes. Saturday's race will be much tougher but rest assured Gai will have him in great order and don't forget Gai has sent out 5 Golden Slipper winners including a famous Slipper trifecta in 2001.
Mossfun ($5) from the inform Hawkes stable at Rosehill is another youngster in terrific form. She won her first 3 starts before running a brave 2nd to Earthquake in the Reisling Stakes two weeks ago. Forecast rain will only enhance her prospects.
Bring Me The Maid's ($11) win in last Saturday's Magic Night Stakes was too good to ignore and she is capable of finishing in the top 4.
In the Group 1 BMW Stakes Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente ($2.90) should turn around his mediocre last start 7th in the Ranvet Stakes. The step up in distance to 2400 is a major plus for the imported stallion.
Rounding out 3 Group 1 events is the Vinery Stud Stakes for 3 year old fillies. Sky Racing's New Zealand correspondent Brent Wall told me during the week that kiwi filly Rising Romance ($5) is an above average type that battled on strongly for 2nd behind Puccini in the New Zealand Derby. Back against her own sex this weekend she deserves plenty of respect.
It will be a great day of Autumn racing on Saturday and you'll see it all on Sky commencing with our Inside Running preview at 8am Eastern Daylight time.
And don’t forget, we have a 90 minute Racing Retro this weekend at the special time of 8:30am Eastern Standard time Sunday (clocks go back 1 hour early Sunday Morning!)
G3 - Lowland S
Listed - Ibhayi Stakes
G3 - Northern Trotting Breeders Stakes
G1 - Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks
G3 - The Founders Cup (1700)