The NSW Racehorse Owners Association Night of Champions produced a number of well publicised winners last week, but there was one victory not reported which could be considered the biggest of the lot.
Tom Berry is confident, articulate and easily approachable, these qualities paying off to score him a ride on a Melbourne Cup favourite.
Berry will partner Maluckyday this weekend in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes in Sydney, it will be the first spring run for the horse which finished runner up in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
The jockey earned the ride after striking up a conversation with Nick Moraitis at the awards dinner last week.
“I just said to Nick, if ever there is an opportunity to ride Maluckyday I’d love to get the chance,” he said.
“Straight away he said ‘done’.
“I didn’t think anything of it at the time and then my manager rang me during the week and said I was booked for Maluckyday, I nearly fell over.”
Maluckyday’s regular rider Jim Cassidy is unavailable for the Warwick Stakes through suspension so Berry is well aware he needs to make his ride count as it could be the only opportunity he gets.
“If I never get another chance to ride him again I’ll be satisfied,” Berry said yesterday.
“I know I am only filling in for Jimmy, I’m more than happy with it though, if he comes out and wins the Melbourne Cup this year I will be able to look back in life and say I rode him.
“And you never know what might come from it down the track so I am very grateful for the chance I’ve been given by Mr Moraitis.”
There is a bit of pressure on both horse and rider in the Warwick Stakes, Maluckday’s autumn campaign finishing well short of expectations.
While he ran solidly first up to finish fourth in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes, after that he faltered to return another fourth and then a distant seventh in The BMW.
The Hawkes training team decided he needed an extensive break in the paddock and now after nearly 150 days they’ll see if the spell has paid off.
Cassidy partnered him in his final trial on Monday and says that he feels better than the horse who failed to get up over the autumn.
That being said Berry is naturally cautious to talk him up too much before a first up 1400m race on a heavy track.
“Obviously he is going to get better as the races get longer but he is a class horse and they don’t know how to run bad races,” he said.
Maluckyday gives Berry a great card at Warwick Farm tomorrow which also includes two chargers form the Chris Waller stable in Key West and First Look.
“I was very happy with the way First Look trialled, she is a mare with plenty of ability,” he said.
“I know she has probably promised a little more than she has delivered but if she turns up with her best, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her give some cheek in the race.”