It was Tommy Berry’s day at Wyong on Friday, landing a winning treble including one for his father Kevin and mother Julie on a day that saw praise heaped on the racing surface.
Jockeys and trainers were astounded that the track was so fair given the amount of rain that has fallen prior to the meeting and the face the meeting was in some doubt.
Twice stewards upgraded the track, from a heavy 10 to a heavy 9 after the first race then later to a heavy 8.
“Three years ago you would not have contemplated bringing a horse up here after that sort of rain,” trainer, Jason Coyle, said.
“The improvement to the drainage and the grass cover is outstanding.”
After the first race Tommy Berry said the track was heavy but safe but later amended his opinion saying he could not believe how quickly was drying out.
The weather remained fine and at times sunny until just before the start of the final race when light rain set in again.
Wyong Race Club’s CEO, David Jewell, said the track had been over sown with winter rye which had thrived and had given the track a good grass cover.
Berry won the Confidence Insured Benchmark 60 (1100m) for his parents on top weight Torchbearer while earlier in the day he had scored on Houdini Hal for Anthony Cummings in the Hog’s Breath Maiden (1350m) and on Present Sense for Anne-Marie Ruttley in the Advance Design Maiden (1600m).
The first thing Berry did when he returned to scale on Torchbearer was look at this mother and say “I told you he needed blinkers.”
Julie Berry said her son had been at her and his father for some time to fit blinkers.
“Tom said the horse was losing his concentration so we put them for the first time at Canterbury and he ran a great race,” Julie Berry said .
“We have been running this horse in races probably a little bit out of his depth because he is only small and we have been trying to get some weight off his back.
“He had top weight again today in a race that suited so we thought he was a big chance.”
Berry adopted the tactics he used on the first two winners, taking off before the turn and staying close to the fence.
While he was doing that Nick Heywood on the favourite Machinegun Jubs was having anything but a comfortable ride as the horse lugged out on the turn taking the second favourite Vaniloquio (Tye Angland) with him.
Angland was able to eventually switch back inside the favourite but by then it was too late and Vaniloquio finished fifth.
A quick move before the turn by Berry proved the winning move on Houdini Hal.
Berry rook off from fourth to circle the small field and assume the lead on the point of the turn and go on and win by a length from the Tracey Bartley trained Naretha.
“I had a look at his previous run when he finished third at Hawkesbury and thought this was the way to ride him,” Berry said.
“You can often ride that way at Wyong and win.”
Cummings’ foreman, Dave Wilson, said Houdini Hal had taken time to learn what racing was all about.
“We think he is a horse going forward and I am sure Anthony will have something in mind for him,” Wilson said.
Berry adopted similar tactics on the Anne-Marie Ruttley trained Present Sense to win the Advance Design Maiden (1600m).
The lightly raced five year old proved a class above his opposition going on to win by four lengths from the Anthony Cummings trained favourite Lamma Hilton with Ti Tan Tiger (Robert Thompson) getting home from the back of the field for third.
Scott Singleton believes that Savona Sunset will develop into a middle distance galloper after the filly scored a game win, on debut, in the Farrar Legal Three Year Old Maiden (1350m).
“She is a big, gawky thing and is still learning but she has a lot of ability,” Singleton said.
“We will keep stepping her up in distance and eventually I think she will run a mile or a mile and a quarter.”
Kathy O’Hara sent Savona Sunset to the lead and she stayed there, digging deep near the line to hold off Pindara and win by half a length.
“I would have preferred to have cover but they went slow and I knew she would not be able to sprint over the top of them,” O’Hara said.
“She is new and was looking around down the back.”
The Peter and Paul Snowden trained Madame Lily was on her best behaviour when she resumed to easily win the Wideline Windows and Doors Maiden (1100m).
She was to have resumed at Warwick Farm last month but got caste in the stalls and scratched and was sent back to the trials.
“She is a lovely little darling and a pleasure to do anything with,” Paul Snowden said.
“It’s always the quiet ones that do something wrong.
“She had been in the gates for some time and took fright at something.
“The trip up here and the win will do her the world of good.”
Josh Parr let her stride forward early, she came around the turn on the fence and went on to win by a length and a quarter.
“She was far too classy,” Parr said.
A walk on the track before the meeting by Blake Spriggs set the ground work for the win by Oscar’s Choice for veteran Wyong trainer Bob Holloway in the Club Toukley RSL Provincial Plate (1200m).
Spriggs took a trail, on the fence, behind the leader Clint and stayed there.
When the remainder of the field fanned Spriggs stuck to the inside and Oscar’s Choice shot clear to win by one and a half lengths from the Tracey Bartley trained To Excess.
“After walking the track I knew the rail was the best going and the place to be,” Spriggs said.
Holloway was not surprised by the ride.
“Blake said to me early on it was his plan and he stuck to it,” Holloway said.
“It was a great ride.
“He is a very consistent horse and that is the way to ride him, to get him to settle behind the pace.”
Hawkesbury trainer Wade Slinkard admits he and the large syndicate which races Vencedora had made a mistake in trying to turn him into a middle distance galloper.
At his three starts back from a spell he has run second and won over 1200 metres at Goulburn then came to Wyong and won the Priority Business Laywers Benchmark 65 (1350m).
“He is stoutly bred but he doesn’t want to be a stayer,” Slinkard said.
“He is no champion but I think he will be at his best around 1400 metres.”
The large syndicate that races the horse, mainly young people, were out in force and cheered loudly as he hit the line after leading all the way for Robbie Brewer.
“That’s the way he likes to race, either leading or just off the pace,” Slinkard said.
Jeff Penza adopted similar catch me if you can tactics on Haymate to win the BJ Howes Metaland Class Two (1600m).
It was a return to form for the five year old and trainer Jason Attard put it down to taking the blinkers off him.
“I think it has changed his attitude and we will look for another 1600 metre race somewhere for him,” Attard said.