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Image: Steve Hart
Top jockey Tommy Berry is chasing a breakthrough Oaks victory aboard Smirk

He has won three Golden Slippers, Randwick’s two biggest mile races and enjoyed his share of Derby success, but Tommy Berry is still hunting his maiden victory in an Oaks.

The top jockey has captured three Derbys in two countries – a Hong Kong Derby aboard Designs On Rome (2014) and the Sydney and Brisbane classics respectively on Tavago and Eagle Way, both in 2016.

However, the closest he has come to claiming the fillies’ version was a second aboard Thunder Lady in the 2014 VRC Oaks and it is an anomaly he is keen to amend.

“The Derbys have been really good. I have won a Derby here in Sydney, a Queensland Derby, a Derby in Hong Kong,” Berry said.

“But I have never had a good staying filly.

“Not only have I not won an Oaks, I have been riding for 16 years and in all of the Oaks races – in Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland – I reckon I would have been lucky to ride in 10 Oaks (in total).”

Berry hopes to end his blackout on Saturday when he links with the Chris Waller-trained Smirk in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm.

The filly finished a game third to Barb Raider in The Roses (2100m) last weekend and while she will have to overcome barrier 16, Berry has taken heart from the fact two prominent chances, William Pike’s mount Gypsy Goddess (barrier 22) and James McDonald ‘s ride Dynasties (15), also have tough draws.

“It would have been nice to draw a gate to help her stay the trip, and I guess the distance is still a bit of a query, but she has got a bit of quality on her side,” Berry said.

“A horse like Gypsy Goddess, she has drawn out wide, so has Dynasties, and they’re a few of the main chances, so we all have to deal with the same problem.

“Hopefully I give mine a better ride than ‘Pikey’ and James give theirs.”

While Berry will be chasing his first Queensland Oaks, Waller will be looking for his fourth having won with Winx (2015), Egg Tart (2017) and Youngstar (2018).

 
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