Berry Keen on Dan Excel for 2014 Cox Plate Success

Top Sydney-based jockey Tommy Berry expressed his excitement over a number of his Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival prospects on Tuesday including Singapore raider Dan Excel who comes over for the Cox Plate 2014.

Tommy Berry

Sydney-based Tommy Berry has a host of ace Melbourne Group 1 rides this spring carnival. Photo: Daniel Costello.

Racing Victoria yesterday announced the nominations for five of the spring majors including those for the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) to run at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 25.

A record 225 entries were taken for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship including four of the 10 international invitees.

One of those comes from the Hong Kong stables of expat Aussie trainer John Moore who will bring over his Shamardal six-year-old Dan Excel.

A winner of six of their 35 starts to date the talented gelding was last seen kicking clear of their rivals to win the Group 1 Singapore Cup (2000m) by nearly two lengths on May 18.

Sydney-based Berry partnered with Dan Excel for their Singapore Cup victory during a successful stint riding overseas.

He was also aboard the galloper for their lead-up run when an eye-catching third to Variety Club in the Group 1 Champions Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin.

Berry, 23, then could continue that association when the horse arrives down under for a raid on the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival where their main aim is the Cox Plate.

Before the Cox Plate nominations were taken Dan Excel was listed as a $17 chance at in their futures markets, a price that is sure to firm now they are a confirmed runner.

The punters are also likely to come for Dan Excel after Berry’s positive comments on the horse and his excitement about their spring prospects.

“He can travel and win,” Berry declared on Tuesday.

“I think he’ll enjoy his break in the paddock and come back better than ever.”

The three other invitees that have nominated are the William Haggas-trained Coral-Eclipse Stakes winner Mukhadram, Pascal Bary’s French-trained stallion Smoking Sun coming off a Singapore Cup second and Eclipse Stakes runner-up Trading Leather.

Gai Waterhouse meanwhile will be looking to keep Berry aboard her Cox Plate favourite Carlton House, the young hoop to have the first right of refusal on the Queen-owned galloper.

Berry has a host of other topline rides to look forward to this spring including Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer prepared by Waterhouse who seeks back-to-back wins in the ‘race that stops a nation’.

“He’s come along in leaps and bounds,” Berry said of Sydney Cup winner The Offer.

“His trial a few weeks ago showed me he will be up to the big races this spring.”

The Offer is also favourite for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18 that received 225 nominations yesterday.

A third Waterhouse-trained star, Almalad, is his other prized mount for the season with the Al Maher colt to run in the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 11 that attracted 281 nominees.

“Spring is certainly in the air,” he said. “It’s not far away now.

“The spring is something that’s eluded me at the moment – I’ve ridden Group 1s all around the world – but Melbourne’s one place where I really want to get that last one up and I believe I can do it this spring.”

Plans from the hoop are to spend the majority of the season in Melbourne and not Sydney to give himself the best chance of snaring that elusive Group 1 spring carnival win.

“I’ll spend a couple of months here,” Berry said at Tuesday’s Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate nominations launch.

“If you’re really serious about it you’ve got to set yourself up here like a lot of the big jockeys do, like Hugh Bowman and Nash (Rawiller), and I’ll do the same this year.

“It might be that I just have to go back to Sydney (when required), because it’s a lot easier to go back to Sydney and ride.

“Obviously I’m based there, I know all the tracks very well and I know all the horses very well, so coming to Melbourne over the spring I think is a little bit more important.”

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