Berry keen to get into Group One groove

Thursday 25 February 2021, 1:05pm

The autumn in Sydney is all about Group One racing and jockey Tommy Berry is hoping to play a major role.

But he isn't taking his eye of the premiership prize.

Berry set a goal at the start of the season to improve his consistency and in doing so, make a concerted bid for the Sydney jockeys' title.

With 65 metropolitan winners, five behind leader and defending champion James McDonald, the crown is still in sight.

"You definitely focus more on the Group Ones but being consistent is a big part of winning those Group Ones as well," Berry said.

"I have really focused on being very consistent in my riding. That's where Hugh Bowman and James McDonald have been so successful in the past, they're just so consistent all year round and that's something I have failed to be at times in my career."

Berry was forced to sit out last Saturday due to a careless riding suspension and he is looking forward to returning to Randwick for Sydney's first Group One races of the year.

He partners favourite Dame Giselle in Saturday's Surround Stakes (1400m) and Master Of Wine in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).

Master Of Wine showed tremendous promise at his first Australian preparation but he mixed his form in the spring, his best efforts a fourth in the Makybe Diva Stakes and fifth in the Turnbull Stakes.

In hindsight, Berry admits he may have contributed to Master Of Wine's lacklustre preparation by riding him aggressively first up in a high-pressure edition of the Winx Stakes.

"I tried to ride him on the speed and I was caught wide. I rode him to win that race instead of riding him to run well, he is a stayer so he had bigger things in mind," Berry said.

"Looking back, I probably gutted him a little bit. It took him a few runs to get over that tough, first-up run."

The Chipping Norton is a different kettle of fish with a small field of nine and no obvious speed.

From the outside gate, Berry will go in with an open mind but he is in no doubt Master Of Wine can restore his reputation this campaign.

"I was very pleased with his trial. He went super and he has definitely come on well since then," Berry said.

"I've ridden him in a few pieces of work and he has really pleased me."

Berry is sweating on the track remaining no worse than soft for Dame Giselle when she tackles a top field of fillies in the Surround, headed by dual Group One winner Montefilia.

If the filly strikes the right track conditions, Berry believes she can recapture her spring form which delivered wins in three of the four Princess Series races.

"I still think she is up there with the best fillies going around," Berry said.

"She is going to meet them on Saturday and we'll find out who the best filly is for the autumn I think."


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