Top jockey Berry describes how he won the Hong Kong Derby

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 March, 2014, 11:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 March, 2014, 9:45am

Tommy Berry produced one of the biggest wins of his short career when he won Sunday's BMW Hong Kong Derby on Designs On Rome. He tells Racing Editor Alan Aitken how he won the race:

When I saw him in the parade ring, he looked very well and he looked on his toes, which I thought is a good thing for him because Designs On Rome is usually such a relaxed type. He was generally a little more revved up than he usually is, but I suppose there's a month between the 1,800m race and the Derby so you'd expect him to be a bit of the fresh side.

He was the same in the gates, a bit more on his toe than usual and then when he jumped out, he wanted to put himself right up there, which he has never done before. So I actually had to ask Designs On Rome to come back and he dropped back in the field nicely for me.

I was a little bit worried with the early pace, they weren't going as quick as I thought they would, but up ahead I could see there were a few were trapped wide as we went down the back. I was hoping those horses would push on to try and get in. They did and that put a little more speed into the race.

From the 800m, the leaders started to pick up the pace and started to put on more pressure and shortly after that I decided it was time to get myself closer and into a winning position, so I gave him a slap and he found five lengths very easily to put himself a few lengths off the leaders.

The best thing about this horse, and the thing that also scares me every time I ride him, is how easily he switches off. You make a move like that on him from the 700m to put yourself in touch, and then he just drops the bit again like you're going nowhere. He switches off and just stays there where you've put him and he waits for further instructions.

He doesn't have to keep on with that single move, so it can look like he's idling, like he's not going anywhere. But then you ask him again and he picks up again and he sprinted well at the top of the straight and got to the front, but then he waited again when he was clear.

The best thing that could happen to him then was when Able Friend came at him in the last 200m. He goes again - that's the third run he makes in the race. And when he's in a fight like that, he pins his ears back and knuckles down and he pulled away again in the last bit.

If you watch him, he runs over to his competitor - he did it in the Classic Cup and he did it again here- he runs towards them and half worries them out of it.

It's the first Derby I've won anywhere and I know the quality of opposition that he beat because I've won on Able Friend, who is just a fantastic horse, too. I've never ridden a horse like Designs On Rome before and I can't wait to be part of the future that he's got.

 

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