To the top: Tom Berry after winning the Slipper on Overreach. Photo: Jenny Evans Tommy Berry hopped in the car to Nowra with his dad Kevin on Monday shortly after it was confirmed he would head to Hong Kong.
He probably couldn’t have gone to a place any further from the racing mecca but in some way it says a lot about Berry.
“I love getting in the car with dad and talking things over with him,” Berry said. “It just gave him time to give me some advice, which is always good.
“We talked over what had happened in the Slipper, and we were able to talk about other things as well, including how things might go in Hong Kong.
“Nowra is one of those places that I would ride when I was starting out, and not winning too often. It puts it in perspective, what I had done.”
Berry has won four group 1s this season, and became the first jockey to win the Golden Rose-Golden Slipper double in the same racing year when Overreach gave him his biggest thrill last weekend.
He took his Golden Slipper trophy for the trip but it didn’t make it out of the family home, where it will stay when he takes up his three-month contract in Hong Kong.
“I hadn’t seen dad on Saturday and Sunday, so to take the Slipper there and show him it was something special,” Berry said. “Mum has already said they will look after it while I’m in Hong Kong.
“Taking [the trophy] to show, it was something I really wanted to do, but it was even better to help out with a horse.
“I helped him saddle up but we didn’t have much luck.”
Kevin’s Survivors finished 11th but the afternoon was time well spent for hoop on top of the world. “Family has always been
very important and it will be something I will miss when I go to Hong Kong,” Berry said.
The 22-year-old, who leads the Sydney premiership, has a Randwick carnival to get through first. He will be on Overreach as she tries to back up her Golden Slipper win in the Sires’ Produce Stakes. “I have no doubt she will run the 1400 metres and with the track improving, I think she can be more dynamic,” he said. “Gai said that the Slipper is like running 1400m, especially on a wet track, and as you saw in the Slipper she can just travel and sprint off any speed.”
Then there is another favourite of Berry’s for him to ride late in the day, Karuta Queen in the Sapphire Stakes. “It is great to be riding her and Overreach on the same day,” he said.
“They have both been very special horses to me. Karuta Queen started it all off for me winning the Magic Millions, without her I wouldn’t have got to Gai’s and I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that helped get me to Hong Kong. She is always going to be a horse I will remember.”
Waterhouse has played a big role in Berry’s rise from talented rider to group 1 jockey. “She has taught me so much, and when I got the offer from Hong Kong, she told me just go because these opportunities don’t come along that often,” he said.
His standing has grown in the jockeys’ ranks, and trainers other than Waterhouse have locked in him into rides in the Doncaster Mile and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He has been booked by Chris Waller to ride Rosehill Guineas runner-up Sacred Falls in the Doncaster and will ride Silent Achiever in the Queen Elizabeth.
It will keep him busy until he leaves on April 28. “I’m riding and working until the day I leave,” Berry said. “It is exciting to have the opportunity but it is in the future. … Once I get to Hong Kong I can think about it, but dad told me to just keep working hard.”
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