Classic repeat unlikely in showdown for Hong Kong Derby, says Berry

Australian jockey says while Designs on Rome had a tactical advantage last time over Able Friend, it's a case of 'best horse wins' this time

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 10:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 10:50pm

Jockey Tommy Berry - whose masterful ride on Designs On Rome upset Joao Moreira on Able Friend three weeks ago - has warned that a sequel is unlikely in Sunday's Group One BMW Hong Kong Derby.

The race between the John Moore-trained pair would be a case of "best horse wins", Berry said.

Berry made a decisive early move in the Group One Hong Kong Classic Cup aimed squarely at exposing Able Friend's lack of stamina over 1,800m and utilising his own mount's staying prowess.

The tactical plan worked to perfection with Designs On Rome confirming himself as Derby favourite with a one-and-a-half length victory over his rival.

We both have to ride our horses to suit their own style of racing - if we start worrying about each other, and trying to ride against each other, that is what is going to get us both beaten
Tommy Berry

And - even though the visiting Australian jockey agrees with the consensus that the HK$16 million feature is a two-horse race - he warned against either rider being too preoccupied with what the other was doing.

"We are on the two best horses in the race. There's no doubt about that - we beat everything by a distance last start and I can't see anything changing," he said. "But I believe the best horse will win it, and hopefully we both get the right run in the race to decide who that is.

"We both have to ride our horses to suit their own style of racing - if we start worrying about each other, and trying to ride against each other, that is what is going to get us both beaten."

Thursday's barrier draw ensured tactics would be fairly predictable for the top two - Designs On Rome getting 10 and likely to settle back in the field and Able Friend drawing gate five, from where he should be able to sit closer.

Still, in principle, Berry said his plan was the same as three weeks ago - he would look to get going sooner than Moreira, and it might not play out so dramatically over 2,000m, where the race structure was different and a distance where Designs On Rome will be even more favoured.

"The plan is, though, to be as close to Joao as I can on Able Friend and try to make my run before he does," Berry said.

"Joao is going to want to be midfield on Able Friend - and I'm going to be as close to him as I can. From that wide alley I don't want to get caught wide and I'll have to go even farther back.

"It doesn't so much worry me how far I get back because the field will bunch up at some stage. Coming to the corner, horses will start making their runs and I'll get a nice tag off that. My bloke will show his nice turn of foot at the end of the race.

"What is in my favour even more this time is that Joao has to worry about his horse getting the trip. He can't worry about what I am doing because we are on completely different horses - his horse is a miler that is stretching out to get 2,000m and might struggle at the trip, where my horse is a 2,000m that could run 2,400m."

Moore said he would not be overburdening Berry and Moreira with instructions. He agreed the draw and extra distance made the Derby a different race to the Classic Cup.

"If they had drawn 11 and 12, it might have been interesting where the two of them wanted to be positioned, but it's not the way things worked out," he said.



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