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Classy pair tempt Berry to head north

Thu 2 May 2024

By Mandy Cottell 

Tommy Berry’s timing could hardly be better as he prepares to ride Uncommon James in the sprinter’s Brisbane return.

An opportunity to ride the leading fancies in a brace of Group 2 races has lured top Sydney jockey Tommy Berry to Eagle Farm for the Queensland Guineas meeting.

Berry has picked up the plum mount on Victory Stakes favourite Uncommon James, while he will renew his association with Ducasse in the Guineas, the latter a $6.50 top pick in an open betting race.

He also has four other rides on the program, but it is those two that have convinced the hoop to forgo the lucrative stand-alone meeting at Hawkesbury in favour of Brisbane.

Uncommon James was beaten less than two lengths in The Galaxy at Randwick first-up, an effort that followed a trio of stakes placings during the Melbourne spring, two of them at the highest level.

His last race day appearance in his home state was in June 2022, so Saturday's assignment will be a homecoming for the Steven O'Dea and Matthew Hoysted-trained sprinter.

"Matt was saying that Uncommon James hasn't raced back at home in two years," Berry said.

"He has obviously been in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, so he is going to enjoy being back at home.

"He is drawn a bit awkwardly (barrier eight) but there looks good speed in the race and Matty says he's in tip-top order."

Uncommon James drew the inside gate in Sydney and was ridden to take advantage of the low barrier.

In hindsight, connections felt that may have taken away from his finishing sprint, and Berry said the horse would be given time to find his feet at Eagle Farm.

"We'll probably ride him on the quieter side on Saturday and have the last crack at them," he said.

"He has got the right form; he is the highest-rated horse in the race, and he deserves to be favourite."

Berry links back up with last start Carbine Club Stakes winner Ducasse, who has drawn barrier 16.

While the alley is a challenge, Berry is hoping the horse's natural gate speed can help offset it and says Ducasse has continued to progress since his breakthrough stakes win.

"I worked him on Tuesday morning and he hasn't taken a step back from his previous win," Berry said.

"He's got an awkward gate but being Eagle Farm and not Doomben plays in our favour.

"He is a horse who races forward anyway, so we will probably press forward and hope for a bit of luck."

The Brisbane venture will cap a busy period for Berry, who rode at The Archer meeting at Rockhampton last Sunday, Canterbury on Wednesday and has engagements at the two-day Wagga Cup carnival on Thursday and Friday.