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Top Sydney-based jockey Tommy Berry admits he was shocked when Gai Waterhouse opted to race Cosmic Endeavour on successive Saturdays in the 2015 Canterbury Stakes this weekend, after he was already committed to partner rival runner Leebaz in the Royal Randwick clash.
Four-year-old Northern Meteor mare Cosmic Endeavour is currently narrow second pick through Ladbrokes.com.au in the markets to win the $500,000 Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) on Randwick Guineas Day this Saturday.
Canterbury Stakes betting is led at $3.10 by the Chris Waller-trained Catkins, the daughter of Dubawi coming off back-to-back Group wins at Rosehill from February.
For both the Group 2 Breeders’ Classic (1200m) and the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) Catkins, who is undefeated over Saturday’s distance, had Hugh Bowman aboard.
Bowman however didn’t know Waller was planning a Canterbury run with the five-year-old and so will be aboard the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Hong Kong Cup third placegetter Criterion ($13) on Saturday, who he rode to victory in the Rosehill Guineas and ATC Australian Derby last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Also caught out by a surprise Canterbury Stakes decision by a trainer missing a ride on one of the top two mares is Berry.
Cosmic Endeavour, drawn on the rails this weekend with Yell (2004) the last Canterbury Stakes winner from barrier one, has James McDonald jumping aboard on Saturday.
Berry has ridden her for her past four most recent runs, including wins in the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm last June.
After sticking with her for two trials this summer, Berry jumped aboard for her first-up fourth to Thump in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m) on February 14 and her second to Danesiri last weekend at Warwick Farm in the Group 3 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m).
He certainly didn’t expect Cosmic Endeavour to race again seven days later in Group 1 company with a Canterbury Stakes win, and was already committed to a ride on the Team Hawkes-trained Zabeel gelding Leebaz.
“Plans change and that is what happened unfortunately,” Berry told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It is disappointing because, obviously, I want to ride her all the time.
“She has been going really well and it is her sort of race to win. She has drawn perfectly and I think the back-up will suit her really well.”
While Cosmic Endeavour pays $3.40 to win, Leebaz is a $17 chance, which is actually the longest priced of the nine runners in a wide open market.
Drawn in barrier five, the five-year-old’s most recent victory was back in early May last year in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Cup (1600m).
After that he travelled to Brisbane and finished a nice second to Streama in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m).
During the spring he had two unplaced runs with Dwayne Dunn in the saddle, the most recent of which was a credible fourth when just over two lengths off the winner Hucklebuck in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) on November 8.
Berry has never ridden Leebaz under race conditions, but did partner him for a fourth to the world’s equal highest rated sprinter Terravista in an 800m barrier trial at Warwick Farm only last Friday.
“Anyone who saw his trial behind Terravista would have had to be impressed,” Berry said.
“Obviously he is going to get better over further but he has always run good races first-up.”
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