Tommy Berry has been steadfast in his commitment to staying in Sydney this winter but a two-pronged Group 1 assault with Hawkes Racing has given the in-form hoop good reason to head north this Saturday.
Berry has been chasing a maiden Sydney jockeys’ premiership and trails defending champion James McDonald by nine winners with less than two months left in the season.
He piloted a four-timer at Rosehill on Saturday to narrow the gap but will abandon his title pursuit to head to Brisbane next weekend for the first time in this year’s Winter Carnival.
His long time relationship with the training team of John, Wayne and Michael Hawkes was a key factor in enticing Berry away from Sydney.
Group 1 rides on the Hawkes’ Stradbroke Handicap favourite Wild Planet and JJ Atkins Stakes aspirant Overmann will headline Berry’s book in the Sunshine State.
Berry’s last ride on Wild Planet was a winning one when the pair combined to capture the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes last spring and the Hawkes stable were happy to have him back on deck.
“He knows the horse well,” Michael Hawkes said.
“To Tom’s credit he wanted to stay here (Sydney) and try to win the premiership.
“He didn’t want to go north, and that’s fair enough, but when the big races come around and you get the phone call it can change things.”
Wild Planet is a $6 equal favourite with TAB fixed odds for the Stradbroke Handicap alongside Vega One.
The son of Animal Kingdom surged into contention for the Group 1 when an eye catching runner up to Eduardo in the Doomben 10,000 last month.
“He has pulled up good since his last run and I am looking forward to Saturday,” Hawkes said.
“We thought he would nearly win it and he did nearly win it, with another couple of strides he probably does but it is what it is.
“We have got him primed for this carnival and we thought he would run exceptionally well first up and he runs even better second up.
“Obviously we have kept him fresh for the 1400m and he gets in with a light weight so we are happy.”
The Hawkes’ and Berry will also be chasing a Group 1 double with Overmann.
The son of Hinchinbrook heads north to tackle the JJ Atkins Stakes after breaking his maiden at Rosehill last start.
“He hasn’t taken a backward step at all. He had a nice jump out at the Gold Coast today and went well. He is ticking over,” Hawkes said.
“He is a good chance in that too and progressed well.
“He is probably at a point where he is looking for the mile. He will be hard to beat.
“I don’t think he has to do much (to bridge the gap). His win here was good and he has taken great benefit.
“He is still learning and I think he will run a mile all day.”
Overmann is $21 to win the JJ Atkins.
Originally published asHawkes contender drags red-hot Berry north
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