Jockey Tommy Berry expects talented mare Sookie to be tough to beat when she returns to the races in the Listed Canterbury Classic (1100m) in Sydney tonight.
Sookie joined the stable of Gai Waterhouse at the end of her 2013 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign, which included a win in the Group 3 Glenlogan Park Stakes (1350m), and has impressed with two barrier trial performances since returning from the spelling paddock.
The Casino Prince mare recorded a dominant win in a barrier trial over 1050 metres at Royal Randwick on December 16 and beat stablemates Under The Sun and Carlton House in a trial over 1200 meters at the same venue on January 3.
Berry told Sky Racing HQ this morning that the entire Waterhouse team was happy with the progress of Sookie in the lead-up to the Canterbury Classic is confident that she is a definite winning chance in the Listed event.
“I have done a fair bit of trackwork on her and she has come a long way in a short time,” Berry said.
“She is a lot stronger this preparation and you couldn’t fault her last preparation; she was a Group 3 winner in Queensland.
“With the top-weight being in the race, Howmuchdoyouloveme, it pushes her right down to 54kg, so she will have no weight on her back.
“She has had two very strong trials and I spoke to Nash yesterday and he is full of praise for the mare and thinks that she will be very hard to beat.
“Off her work and her trials I can’t see why she would not be hard to beat.”
Berry admits that there is plenty of quality in the 2014 Canterbury Classic field and he has a high opinion of the resuming Howmuchdoyouloveme, but he believes that 61kg may be too much for the Group 2 winner to handle.
“We are very confident with the way that she is going; Howmuchdoyoulove is a quality horse but he hasn’t had a trial and that suggests to me that he isn’t fully wound up,” Berry said.
“He has to cover seven kilos more than us, so he will definitely have a task.”
Sookie ($2.50) is a clear favourite in 2014 Canterbury Classic betting markets from Howmuchdoyouloveme ($4.20), Darley gelding Knoydart ($4.40) and Marc Quinn-trained Pentasia ($6.50).