Stewards have adjourned an inquiry into Tommy Berry’s ride on Queensland Derby hopeful Tohunga in a race at Canterbury on Wednesday after the short-priced favourite was beaten.
Tohunga ($1.30) was slowly away in the Bowermans Office Furniture Handicap (2800m) and as a result Berry elected to sit at the tail of the field for the first lap of the race.
Berry began to make a move along the back straight with 1000m to go but stewards quizzed the hoop as to why he then didn’t continue to press forward around the field, instead sticking behind outsider Derivative Receipt which then tired in front of him.
Tohunga was forced four-wide around the home turn and ground away in the run to the line to finish second, a length behind winner Star Hawk.
“It just seemed that if you take off at the 1000 metres, why wouldn’t you keep going?” deputy chairman of stewards Greg Rudolph said.
“It’s probably a ride I can learn from watching,” Berry replied.
Stewards adjourned the inquiry to look at video footage of Tohunga’s victory at Gosford last month when he also missed the start and made a mid-race move before going on to win.
Chief steward Ray Murrihy said Berry’s decision not to continue tracking forward was probably the difference between winning and losing.
“It might have been a line ball decision but I think in those circumstances you would have been better suited to keep on going and slip around when they weren’t clapping on the pace,” Murrihy said.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse said Tohunga would still progress to the Group One Queensland Derby (2400m) on June 9 despite the defeat.
Tohunga had finished fifth in the Group One South Australian Derby at his most recent start.
Berry felt Tohunga was still disappointing on the day.
“I knew they would quicken from the half-mile and I wanted to be there when they did,” he told stewards.
“I thought I could be there three-wide with cover and I thought if he was three lengths off them, on his previous runs he would be too good and pick them up.
“He was very laid back today and took a lot of hard riding.”