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After losing his prized 2014 Melbourne Cup mount with the withdrawal of Sydney Cup winner The Offer earlier in the picture, gun young hoop Tommy Berry is thrilled to be partnering with rank outsider Sea Moon next Tuesday.
Last year’s winning Melbourne Cup trainer Gai Waterhouse was forced to withdraw the injured one-time favourite The Offer, giving up her dream of going back-to-back in the ‘race that stops a nation’ on November 4.
It also was a blow for Berry who was booked to ride the galloper in this year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Owner Lloyd Williams and the Macedon Lodge team came to Berry’s rescue however booking him to partner with one of their two Melbourne Cup final acceptors, Beat Hollow six-year-old Sea Moon.
Team Williams and owner Robert Hickmott also lost a genuine Melbourne Cup contender this week with 2012 champion Green Moon suffering a cracked hoof that ruled him out from another go at the classic two mile showdown.
They still have two runners however, Williams shooting for his fifth ‘Loving Trophy’, the favourite of which is last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner ($8.50).
Drawn ideally in barrier nine with Nicholas Hall to ride, Fawkner comes off a Caulfield Stakes win and Cox Plate second and is one of five single figure hopes in the latest Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
At the opposite end of the Melbourne Cup betting markets meanwhile and one of three triple figure hopes to score an upset is then Berry’s new ride, Sea Moon paying $151.
The roughie shot suffered a big blow in Saturday’s Melbourne Cup barrier draw coming up with the gate no one wanted, 18.
Barrier 18 remains the only gate yet to produce a Melbourne Cup winner since barriers came into play in the early 1920s.
Co-owner Nick Williams admitted at Saturday’s press conference that the stable were finding it hard to have confidence in Sea Moon heading into the race after the stallion’s dead last finish when weakening badly in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18.
The Japanese-trained Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti is now the $5 favourite to secure the Spring Cups double, the form of which the bookies are obviously rating.
Williams added however that Sea Moon was capable of better runs, proven last year when he won the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) before being hampered for a run and checked early on in the Melbourne Cup to eventually run 13th behind Fiorente.
Despite the gate and poor lead-up form on Sea Moon, Berry is still excited to be on his back riding the galloper for the first time.
“So excited,” he said.
“I’ve ridden in it (the Melbourne Cup) in the last two years and you never get sick of riding in a Melbourne Cup.
“It’s great to be here this time of year.”
Last year Berry rode Waterhouse’s other runner, French import Tres Blue, who pulled up lame after a 22nd place finish behind the winning stable mate.
In 2012 he made his Melbourne Cup debut and finished seventh aboard another Waterhouse runner, Glencadam Gold.
Three runs into a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival last year meanwhile Sea Moon was beaten a nose by Araldo in the Listed The Bart Cummings (2520m) at Flemington, which led into his Herbert Power victory.
The horse is now third-up going into the Melbourne Cup and Berry is hoping his form can return in time for a competitive effort.
“I really like its form last preparation third-up,” he said.
“He seems to perform third-up quite well and blinkers go on so that gives me a lot of confidence.”
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