The autumn carnival is still a few weeks away but Tommy Berry will head to Randwick with a spring in his step as he prepares to test two young horses with untapped potential.
All but one of Berry’s eight rides on Saturday are at single-figure odds, including Gaulois in the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m).
But it is lightly raced Godolphin stablemate Pandemic and $2.8 million debutant Mount Fuji that Berry is pumped to ride.
“Two-year-olds are always exciting because their ability is untapped, especially first starters,” Berry said.
“And obviously Pandemic. I had a lot of time for him last prep so I want to see him come back and do it again.”
Berry has ridden Pandemic in three of his four starts and after partnering the three-year-old to a recent barrier trial win, he believes the horse is poised to take his career to the next level.
So do punters who on Friday had backed him into $2.80 favouritism with TAB fixed odds after he opened at $4.20.
“He’s the sort of horse where, had he come to hand a bit quicker and been further into his prep, I thought he could have been a Golden Rose type,” Berry said.
“He’s come back much stronger this prep and that’s what we wanted to see from him.
“He meets older horses poorly at the weights which is the only concern but I think his ability can overcome that.”
Berry is keen to test superbly bred Snitzel youngster Mount Fuji for Peter and Paul Snowden having been impressed with his sole barrier trial performance when runner-up to Barbaric.
“He is a colt that oozes a bit of class when you sit on his back, he’s a nice big, strong type and he covers the ground really well,” Berry said.
“He’s just got to come to race day and put it all together.”
Gaulois is considered one of the major players in the Carrington Stakes and unlike favourite Southern Lad is proven at the distance.
Berry says he will need luck from an awkward draw (9) but expects the horse to strip fitter for his first-up fourth in The Buffering at Eagle Farm.
“I’ve never ridden him before but he is always competitive at this level,” Berry said.
“The only problem is he’s drawn a tricky gate in a race with not a lot of pressure in it, so we’re going to need a little bit of luck to get the right run.
“But I think he is the class horse in the field on his day.”
Berry’s other rides include the Chris Waller-trained Guise, who should be suited back to 2000 metres in the PFD Food Services Handicap.