Australian jockey Tommy Berry is buzzing about the chance to ride champion miler Maurice in next month’s Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo, but big race commitments in Japan will force him to forgo the ride on Designs On Rome in the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup on May 22.
Maurice will be looking to extend his winning sequence to eight on June 5 – a run that has included Hong Kong’s two major mile races – and he could become the first horse to go back-to-back in the Yasuda Kinen since champion race mare Vodka achieved the feat in 2008-09.
While Berry’s booking for Noriyuki Hori’s five-year-old is the type of ride the 25-year-old was hoping to pick up during his short-term stint, a plum mount in the Japanese Oaks means he has made the tough decision to give up the ride on Designs On Rome in the Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup.
“The ride on Maurice was something I was hoping for when I came over for a second trip, I knew it could have been on the cards and I’m glad it has worked out,” Berry said.
“It’s great to be attracting rides on horses of this calibre. Out of the horses that I have seen in the flesh, I would put Maurice right there with Winx and Able Friend as the best milers I have seen, so to get on him is going to be a highlight of my career. He is a very special horse; looking at him, he reminds me of So You Think – he is a big, strong animal. And while he is beautiful to look at, he has a great demeanour about him for a colt and he is prepared by a very good trainer.”
Berry has also been booked to ride the Hori-trained Mount Robson in the Japanese Derby on May 29 but it is the ride on Manabu Ikezoe’s front-running filly Rottenmeier that will keep him from continuing an association with Designs On Rome – a horse on which he has captured three Group Ones previously.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but at the end of the day I am contracted to ride here in Japan,” Berry said, with trainer John Moore turning to Joao Moreira for the ride on Designs On Rome on May 22. “I had already spoken to John and he is very understanding. I am only here for eight weekends and have already given up two racedays, one to ride Designs On Rome in the QE II and the other for Chautauqua in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize. I just felt leaving for a third weekend wouldn’t be honouring my contract.”
In other news, jockey Matthew Chadwick will spend five weeks riding in Singapore during the off-season as many local jockeys look to head abroad during the break.
Apprentice jockeys Kei Chiong Ka-kei and Jack Wong Ho-nam, as well as Ben So Tik-hung, will spend time riding in Australia, while Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and Derek Leung Ka-chun are scheduled to ride in Europe and Keith Yeung Ming-lun will head to America for race riding experience.