Jockey Hugh Bowman’s decision to jump off The Barrister and partner rival Pasadena Girl in Saturday’s Champagne Stakes 2015 in Sydney has paved the way for rival hoop Tommy Berry to score another juvenile’s Group 1 this autumn.
Berry has been booked to replace Bowman aboard Jason Warren’s flying Star Witness colt The Barrister, the in-form chestnut up in class for a shot at a what is quite a weak edition of the $400,000 Group 1 Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m).
The mile set weights classic for two-year-old features attracted just nine nominations on Monday, the race having a capacity 14 starters.
With so few entries, and likely even fewer final acceptors, the Champagne Stakes is a very winnable race on All Aged Stakes Day at Randwick on Saturday.
That bodes well then for Berry who is looking for another major two-year-olds win after partnering the Gai Waterhouse-trained Vancouver to victory in the Golden Slipper earlier this autumn.
A winner of his two lead-up runs into the Champagne Stakes, The Barrister only raced in black type company for the first time last Saturday at the track when Bowman guided him to a smart two and a quarter-length victory over Chachapoyas in the Listed Fernhill Handicap (1600m) run on a Heavy (8) track.
He gets the chance to go back-to-back then over the same track and distance on successive Saturdays, and become the first Champagne Stakes winner to come out of the Fernhill since Dracula (1998).
Warren is confident in his horse’s ability, despite the fact he’s out to be the first winner of the race not to come out of a Sires’ Produce race in the past nine years, and is also confident Berry will do a good job in the saddle.
“He’s come through that race terrific,” Warren told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Hughie took a ride on [Peter] Moody’s horse [Pasadena Girl] so unfortunately we don’t have him, but I don’t think we’ll lose anything with Tommy.
“We’ll have a throw at the stumps and hopefully we can pull it off.”
Savabeel filly Pasadena Girl meanwhile has had Vlad Duric aboard for her three runs to date including her win in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Breeders (1200m) at Flemington in mid-March and her last start fourth in the Group 1 Inglis Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) on April 6.
Bowman has opted to jump on her in the Champagne Stakes however, the up-and-comer looking to hand the fillies their third straight win in the race over the boys following the recent success of Guelph (2013) and Go Indy Go (2014).
In the past decade eight All Aged Stakes winners had their final lead-up in the ATC (previously AJC) Sire’s Produce Stakes, including three on the trot who completed the double from 2011-13.
This year the best over the post in the Group 1 lead-up was the Rodney Northam-trained Odyssey Moon who ran second to Pride Of Dubai.
The Scone-based Snitzel colt was beaten three quarters of a length in the Sires on the back of a Golden Slipper eighth and shoots for his first win since a victory in the Inglis Nursery at Randwick on debut last December.
The other headline Champagne Stakes hopeful this year is then the Gary Moore-trained Stratum gelding Takedown who has won the Group 3 Black Opal Stakes (1200m) at Canberra and the Group 3 Baillieu Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill in his two most recent runs.
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