Golden Slipper winning jockey Tommy Berry has knocked back a lucrative Hong Kong Jockey Club contract to concentrate on the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Fresh from riding a winning treble at Sha Tin on Sunday, Berry is following the advice of fellow Australian rider Zac Purton who has firmly established himself as one of the leading riders in Hong Kong.
“I can hopefully establish myself down there during the carnival. Something that Zac Purton said to me was that he has missed out on that, because once you do come here, you don’t go home for a while,” Berry said.
“I left Australia on a very good note. So I just want to build on that a bit more in Melbourne. I’m only young and I have plenty of time to get back here.”
“It’s a hard choice but I am still young and I have never ridden in Melbourne for a full carnival.”
Berry has created a huge impression in his short time in the pressure cooker atmosphere of Hong Kong racing and has ridden fourteen winners including a Group 1 victory on his first day of riding on April 28 on the John Moore trained Military Attack in the Group 1 HK$14m The Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin.
A return to Hong Kong is still a high priority for Berry and he would jump at the chance of another offer if a contract came along in the future.
“I think if I get a chance to come back at the end of next season I will come back a better rider,” Berry said.
Berry established himself as one of the leading jockey’s in Sydney this season after riding his first Group 1 winner on the Peter Snowden trained Epaulette in the Group 1 $1m Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on September 15.
He followed that up with a Group 1 winning double on Fat Al in the $500,000 The Star Epsom (1600m) and Glencadem Gold in the $400,000 McGrath Estate Agents Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on October 6.
Aligned to the Gai Waterhouse stable as the number two rider, Berry found himself in the number one spot when Nash Rawiller was forced out of the saddle for a couple of months with a broken ankle at the beginning of the year.
Berry took full advantage and raced to the top of the Sydney jockey premiership as well as adding to his Group 1 tally.
The win on the Waterhouse trained Overreach in the Group 1 $3.5m Tooheys New Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on April 6 saw Berry win the biggest prize of his short career and he quickly followed that up with a top ride to take out the Group 1 $2m BMW Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 20.
Berry has had a taste of the Melbourne Spring Carnival and rode Glencadem Gold into sixth place after leading the field into the straight in last year’s Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington.