Incoming jockey Tommy Berry will get a huge kick-start on his first day riding at Sha Tin when he replaces Zac Purton on Military Attack in the Group One Audemars Piguet QEII Cup in just under two weeks, trainer John Moore saying it could give the Australian some crucial early momentum at the start of his three-month stint.
Berry showed off his big-race credentials with a flawless effort in the Golden Slipper on Overreach and leads the competitive Sydney jockeys' premiership, and while partnering last-start winner Military Attack in an international Group One will be a baptism of fire for the youngster, it is also a golden opportunity to showcase his skills to owners at the start of a tenure that runs until the end of the season.
"I can't think of a better way for him to start - you see jockeys when they come in, it helps if they do well early and get some momentum and if he could win on Military Attack what a springboard that would be," said Moore. Purton is on Ambitious Dragon. "Weichong Marwing will ride Ashkiyr and Olivier Doleuze will ride Irian in the QE II."
Purton started with a solid looking book and seemed a chance of eating into the suspended Douglas Whyte's eight-win lead at the top of the jockeys' championship. But in the end, the Australian pegged just one win back, enduring a frustrating day as he finished second in the first four races before breaking through in the fifth on Ho Ho Life.
"It was a little bit frustrating running second," said Purton, who showed tenacity to score on Ho Ho Life. Dennis Yip Chor-hong's gelding struggled with wide gates and big weights at his last two starts.
"He deserved a win, he isn't the easiest horse to win with because he needs things run to suit, especially where he is at the top of the Class Four with big weights all the time," Purton said. "What makes it hard for him is that he doesn't really have any tactical ability. He jumped well and then he travelled well for me, which he doesn't always do. When the leaders kicked, it did take him a little while to wind up, but on the line he was probably at his best and the further he went the more comfortable he was."