Team Hawkes are on the hunt for a new rider for their star sprinter Chautauqua for the $10m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 14 after Tommy Berry was refused a request to return to Australia from Hong Kong.
Berry is Chautauqua’s regular rider in Sydney and the pair have combined to win the last three runnings of the Group 1 $2.5m T J Smith Stakes which is run over the same course and distance as The Everest.
Berry is due to start a twelve month riding contract for leading Hong Kong trainer John Moore and made a request to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for a release to ride Chautauqua in The Everest.
Hong Kong usually race at Sha Tin on Sundays but have a rare Saturday meeting on October 14 which is why the Hong Kong Jockey Club refused Berry’s request to return to Australian for The Everest Race Day.
“It’s disappointing but I understand and respect the club’s decision,” Berry told Racenet.
“If we were racing on the Sunday in Hong Kong there wouldn’t have been a problem.
“I’ve spoken to John Hawkes and he understands and said it’s just unfortunate.
“John said you’re starting a new chapter of your career and you just need to concentrate on that.”
John Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his sons Wayne and Michael, encouraged Berry to take up the Hong Kong riding contract when it recently became available.
“John (Hawkes) said this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he basically pushed me out the door,’’ Berry told The Daily Telegraph.
“But the Hawkes team have been such great supporters of mine and I felt I owed it to John, Michael and Wayne to talk it over with them.”
Berry is no stranger to riding in Hong Kong and has made regular trips there combining with Moore to win several Group 1 races including two wins this season on Helene Paragon at Sha Tin in the Group 1 HK$10m The Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on January 30 and in the Group 1 HK$10m The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) on February 26.
Berry also steered Chautauqua to a spectacular last to first win in the 2016 Group 1 HK$10,000,000 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin.
Melbourne jockey Dwayne Dunn is also a regular rider of Chautauqua when he races in Melbourne with the pair combining for multiples wins and will no doubt be throwing his hat into the ring for The Everest ride on the grey flash.
Chautauqua currently sits at the top of the market order for The Everest at $4.80 with Ladbrokes.com.au, ahead of Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign at $7 and Winx at $8.
Early market order for the 2017 The Everest at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.80 Chautauqua, $7 She Will Reign, $8 Winx, $11 Caravaggio, Russian Revolution, $13 English, $15 Houtzen, Spieth, Vega Magic, $17 Lady Aurelia, $21 Fell Swoop, $26 Acapulco, Black Heart Bart, Lankan Rupee, Limato, Mecca’s Angel, Redzel, $34 or better the rest.