Tommy Berry is upbeat about the chances of Almalad in the 2014 J.J. Atkins and the in-form hoop is confident that the lightly-raced gelding can finish in the placings in the Group 1 event at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Berry will be riding Almalad in a race for the first time in the J.J. Atkins on Saturday, but told Sky Racing HQ that he had partnered the Al Maher gelding on a number of occasions in trackwork before leaving for Hong Kong and has always been confident that he would develop into a quality juvenile.
“I had a lot to do with him before I came to Hong Kong and even before his first start,” Berry said.
“He was a little bit of a late maturer you would say, as all the two-year-olds are that head towards the Brisbane Winter Carnival, but when he came in this preparation he was a lot stronger and a lot more focused.
“Mark Newnham and I worked him together a few times and we were very surprised with how quickly he had come on.
“We thought that he was going to be one of our better two-year-olds later on and he has definitely turned out to be that.”
Almalad made his racing debut with a narrow win over Pink Perfection and Me Mongo in the Nuturf Plate (1000m) at Gosford on December 27 and stamped himself as a contender for the J.J. Atkins with a dominant three and a half lengths win over Sports Edition and Ravenwitch in the Early Quaddie Plate (1200m) at Royal Randwick on May 24.
Berry said that he was very impressed with the performance of Almalad in the Early Quaddie Plate and believes that he will be very competitive in the J.J. Atkins if he is able to replicate that performance this Saturday.
“His win the other day was explosive and he pulled away from a field that had a bit of quality about it,” Berry said.
“Gai’s other horses that were in that race we have a bit of an opinion of as well.
“As long as we can draw a nice gate, he has good gate speed anyway to get across, and if he can do that I would be very confident that he can finish in the placings.”
Almalad is currently available at 2014 J.J. Atkins odds of $4.60; with Chris Waller-trained Brazen Beau a dominant favourite at a quote of $2.05.