A suspension to Dwayne Dunn has given Tommy Berry an undeniable chance at landing a maiden Melbourne Group One victory on star sprinter Chautauqua.
Berry picked up the Manikato Stakes ride on Chautauqua after Dunn was banned for careless riding suspension on Caulfield Cup day.
Sydney-based Berry won the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes on Chautauqua the autumn carnival at Randwick in one of two Group One rides he’s had on the gelding and he is excited by his latest opportunity on the speedster in Friday night’s sprint at Moonee Valley.
Berry has won 19 Group One races with elite-level wins in Sydney, Brisbane, Hong Kong and Singapore, but he has yet to land a Group One in Melbourne.
His four Group One placings in Victoria include a second in last week’s Caulfield Cup on Trip To Paris.
Chautauqua has proven a class above in his two Group Two wins this spring in the McEwen Stakes and Gilgai Stakes and is $2 favourite for the Manikato (1200m) against a star-studded field including Group One winners Terravista, Buffering, Srikandi, Rebel Dane and Tiger Tees.
“I always had a feeling that if Dwayne did get suspended there would be a chance I could get back on him,” Berry said.
“I’m sure there would have been a lot of other jockeys putting their hand up so it’s nice to get the opportunity.”
Berry says barrier two in the field of 10 is a little awkward but has confidence in the Hawkes Racing-trained Chautauqua’s ability and acceleration.
“He’s a horse that you can have the last crack at them (with), he’s probably got the best turn of foot in the race and I believe he’s the best horse in the race,” Berry said.
“But you can’t disregard horses like Buffering and Terravista, they’ve proven it at the top level as well.”
Chautauqua is slated for a trip to Hong Kong for the International Sprint in December after his Melbourne spring campaign, and Berry is hoping he might get the opportunity.
“They’ve told me it will either be between Dwayne probably and I,” Berry said.
“They haven’t made their decision and probably won’t until later. The Hawkes team don’t like rushing into decisions, but I’m definitely a chance.”
Berry is scheduled to ride at the Hong Kong International meeting regardless.
“I’ll be over there to ride Dan Excel anyway,” Berry said.
“I’ve told them I’ll be there.”