Tommy Berry was responsible for some friendly fire at Happy Valley on Wednesday night as the Australian jockey landed a much-needed double and unearthed a Hong Kong Derby hope for trainer Tony Millard.
Berry has endured a tough start to his time as John Moore’s retained stable jockey but wins on Born Dragon and Singapore Sling relieved the pressure, with the latter overhauling the Moore-trained Beauty Prince near the post in the final race to throw down his credentials as a Derby horse.
A Group Two winner in South Africa as a three-year-old, Singapore Sling had impressed in his first run here when things worked out horribly in a race at Sha Tin behind Pingwu Spark and it didn’t all go to plan on Wednesday night either.
“The pace wasn’t strong and he did get a bit keen but when he stretched out in the straight, he felt like a quality horse,” said Berry. “He needed to be with the big break that Beauty Prince had on me, I never thought he had it won until right on the line.”
It was #HKDerby aspirant and former South African galloper Singapore Sling winning the last under @TommyBerry21. It was just his second start in Hong Kong. Racing resumes on 1/1 at Sha Tin! pic.twitter.com/XnOWXQMqKW— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 27, 2017
Berry earlier won for Caspar Fownes on Born Dragon, part of a winning double for the yard and a welcome victory for Berry.
“These are the meetings where John doesn’t have many runners – he only had two tonight – so I’m hoping I can build on these sorts of results at the midweeks,” said Berry, who has had only seven wins for the season.
“I have a lot of nice rides coming up for John on the good horses, it’s the bread-and-butter side where I’ve got to improve things with the outside stables and hopefully tonight will help.”
Nash Rawiller also provided a pair, taking both of the 1,000m races on Mr Right and E-Super, and the jockey’s characteristic fast beginnings played a key role.
“The start is the most important part of a 1,000m race and I had horses tonight that begun well and put themselves right there,” he said.
“It was never the plan to lead on E-Super but he came out so well and got there so comfortably that it would have served no purpose steadying him. He was brave with the big weight when the second horse looked like he had him. I wouldn’t discount him up in class next time with a light weight.”
Trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung said a gelding operation had led to E-Super’s poor season in 2016-17 but he had regained his confidence.
“When he came here he was a colt and did well in his early races as a colt, including two wins, but I felt he was getting too heavy so we gelded him in March last year and when he came back the next season, he wasn’t the same horse,” Man said.
“So he drifted down the ratings and came back lower in the handicap this season but also with his confidence coming back and he has not run a bad race.”
Joao Moreira returned from suspension with a double, keeping his great record intact on the Fownes-trained Sweet Bean in the Class Five, and on Imperial Gallantry for Paul O’Sullivan in the seventh.
“He can be a hard horse to handle but he just loves Joao,” said O’Sullivan after the four-length romp. “When you see him win like that, you’d think he should be in Class Two.”
Fownes said Sweet Bean’s win was hardly a surprise as the Class Five stayer had run well all season.
“He has been unlucky quite a few times but he goes well for Joao and he loves the Valley 1,800m and he got it all tonight,” he said.