Tommy Berry wins QE II Cup just hours after arriving in Hong Kong
Australian jockey wins QE II Cup mere hours after arriving in Hong Kong for the first time on a day that had everything at Sha Tin
Sha Tin hosted an Audemars Piguet QE II Cup to treasure on a day that had a little of everything from Tommy Berry making history in the main event, to the dodgem carnage behind him, to a post-race barrage by Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges against anabolic steroids in racing.
Berry left Australia for the first time in his life on Saturday night and arrived at Sha Tin with his girlfriend Sharnee in the early hours of yesterday. He went for a walk to familiarise himself with the track and was standing on the winner's podium only hours later as a Group One winner with the John Moore-trained Military Attack.
It was just one more powerful breeze in the typhoon that has blown Berry to the forefront of racing in his homeland in the last 12 months.
The past three weeks alone have seen him collect the world's richest two-year-old event, the Golden Slipper, the historic Doncaster handicap at Randwick and now an international Group One on the first day of his Jockey Club contract.
"It doesn't get much better than this," he said. "I'm only 22 and I don't think I'll be able to beat what I've done in the last 12 months in my whole career."
Berry thanked Moore for the opportunity on Military Attack and the Jockey Club for a first class seat on the plane. "I was able to get a good sleep on the way," he laughed.
"When I walked the track, it reminded me a lot of Randwick -beautiful, big, spacious track where everyone gets their chance. Mr Moore turned out the horse in spectacular order. He told me no one's ever won a Group One on their first day - well, it had to happen sometime, I'm glad it was me."
Moore said he was pinching himself over the win and thanked rival jockey Zac Purton for having turned around the tactical abilities of Military Attack. Purton was, in turn, pinching himself and wanting to at least pinch a couple of others over the rodeo that went on behind the winner at the 200m and cost Horse Of the Year Ambitious Dragon the race and ended his season. "I was going to win by two lengths," Purton shook his head.
Ambitious Dragon got a severe check when California Memory responded to a slap with the whip by running out sharply into Ambitious Dragon's path and jockey Matthew Chadwick later copped a hefty penalty at the head of a queue of riders punished on the day by the stewards.
Engelbrecht-Bresges, wearing his other hat as vice-chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, was on the front foot in response to the steroid positives and subsequent eight-year ban for the UK-based Godolphin trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni. He used the platform of an international race day to issue a statement to the visiting overseas media.
"The [IFHA] chairman, Louis Romanet, and I have had a discussion about the significant issues arising from the case of the use of anabolic steroids, which is damaging to the sport's image," he said.
"There may be certain medical indications where steroids can be used for the welfare of the horse, but they have nothing to do with racing and this is something the IFHA must discuss so that a global policy can be put to the general assembly in October.
"We need to define what constitutes a horse in training, what constitutes a breach and in what circumstances you can use a certain type of steroid. There's no way you can give some high-acting steroids for horses in pre-training or full training which are clearly designed to enhance the performance of the horse in a race. Every crisis is an opportunity to put things right and this is such a circumstance."