Saturday, April 6, 2013

With a dash of Bowman, Berry keeps his cool on pit pony

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Overreach takes out the Slipper

Tommy Berry riding Overreach celebrates winning the Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

A ''pit pony with a big, big motor'' and Hugh Bowman were the shining lights at a weather-riddled Rosehill Gardens on Saturday with 19,546 people in attendance.

There have been bigger crowds for Golden Slipper day but the competitive nature of the racing and the quality of thoroughbred were not dimmed by the threatening weather.

Certainly the soft going didn't dim the brilliance of Overreach, which was just too good in the $3.5 million main event. Rider Tom Berry rode cool in a hot seat.

Gai Waterhouse

Just a peck: Tom Berry and Gai Waterhouse after winning the Golden Slipper with Overreach. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

''Looking at the two-year-olds around the stalls before the race, most were big and strong and along came this little filly, but what an engine,'' rival trainer Peter Snowden, runner-up with Sidestep, marvelled with the pit-pony line.

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Later Mark Newnham, stable foreman for Gai Waterhouse, produced the vital statistics for Overreach: 15 hands with a fighting weight of 465 kilograms, a garnish of brilliance and style generated by heart.

Mind you, Berry dealt with what could have been a dicey situation, having drawn the rails, with aplomb.

Waterhouse had doubts about the weather and must have wondered whether she could be on her wrong leg after the defeat of More Joyous, brought about by a give-no-quarter ride on Streama by Bowman, in the Queen Of The Turf.

As Bowman later told stewards, he gave Nash Rawiller on More Joyous the ''sniff of a run'' in the straight after putting them in a pocket earlier.

It turned into an obnoxious pong for favourite backers as More Joyous ran out of room.

A few weeks back, the sidelined Rawiller, commenting for TVN, was critical of Bowman on Red Tracer and Rawiller took over to score on the mare next start. Incidentally, she was second to Appearance in the Queen Of The Turf, while Streama filled third.

Perhaps some would say it was payback time for Bowman.

''It's a group 1 day and good jockeys being competitive,'' Craig Williams, involved in the tactical battle, told stewards, hitting the nail on the head.

However, the fact remains More Joyous should have won but didn't. Yes, Rawiller had a throw at the stumps but, on a good thing, shouldn't have been in such a desperate position. Certainly he wasn't on Pierro, outside and flowing, clear of the squeeze box in the George Ryder. Wags were quick to point out when owner John Singleton left Rosehill in his helicopter that Rawiller would be on board but a passenger could be lost over Sydney Harbour.

Earlier Bowman notched a group 1 double, on Norzita in the Vinery and Fiveandahalfstar in The BMW. He was copybook on Norzita but Fiveandahalfstar took superb judgment of pace and strength of the highest level to score. Recollections of George Moore came to mind.

Cynics were quick to point out Bowman wasn't all that flash last start on Hot Snitzel, successful on Saturday with Blake Shinn up in the last. Bowman handled him when he was downed at $3.70 at Rosehill on March 23. Nobody's perfect, a point upon which Rawiller, too, will reflect. Still Berry, who history will remember as a jockey made by Waterhouse, was right in the zone.

''Gai turned my career around,'' Berry said.

Certainly his father, John, a Warwick Farm trainer, gave Waterhouse the foundation.

''Work hard for what you want to be,'' John told him. And his son has followed instructions, with a dash of Bowman flair, to perfection.

Even Berry's victory salute was workmanlike and considered, drawing only a $200 fine for expressing his delight a stride too soon.

Nobody could say it was what Ray Murrihy, the Racing NSW chief stipe, describes as ''lairising''.


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