Ace Sydney jockey Tommy Berry is confident heading into Saturday’s 2015 Winter Stakes at Rosehill Racecourse as he prepares to partner the returning Gai Waterhouse-trained Liberty’s Choice.
Waterhouse is dually represented in the $100,000 Listed Sydney Markets Limited Winter Stakes (1400m) on the weekend with two first-up runners in the handicap feature.
Tulloch Lodge has progressive apprentice Travis Wolfgram aboard the 59kg top weight Spurtonic ($13) who hasn’t raced since the end of February as well as Liberty’s Choice drawn beside each other in barriers five and four respectively.
Berry is booked to partner the latter, Liberty’s Choice a firming $9 chance in the latest Winter Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au that are led by in-form mare Two Blue ($4.20) from the Wyong stables of Kristen Buchanan.
Getting in on the 54kg minimum, four-year-old Redoute’s Choice gelding Liberty’s Choice is back at the races for the first time since crossing sixth when well beaten by Hooked in the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day last October.
His best performance during the spring was a second to Rock Sturdy in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) in late September at Rosehill where he returns for the first time on Saturday.
On his official record Liberty’s Choice has had just the one run on Heavy going for an unplaced effort.
The wet weather in Sydney guarantees a Heavy-rated track at Rosehill for Winter Stakes Day, but that should be a non-issue for Berry’s mount who comes off two solid trials in those conditions.
The first was a 1200m win on a Heavy (10) at Randwick on June 23 before his second behind Mardi at Warwick Farm only six days later over the same distance on another mud course.
Those performances give Waterhouse and Berry, who rides the horse for the first time since a third behind Sir Moments in the Listed Daybreak Lover Stakes (1600m) at Eagle Farm over a year ago, confidence.
Also working in the horse’s favour are his speedy 600m hitout on Tuesday morning where he ran his closing 600m in 37.7 seconds and 11.3 over the final 200m, and the gelding operation between now and last spring.
“Having his manhood removed is definitely something that could see him perform much better at the races,” Berry told The Daily Telegraph.
“You’ve got to remember this is a horse that beat Chautauqua last year and on his day is a genuine Group animal.
“He’s only got to run his best and he’ll be exceptionally hard to beat here.”
Other notable Winter Stakes hopefuls this weekend include the Chris Waller-trained market mover You’ll Never ($6 into $5) who Blake Shinn rides from barrier two and Godolphin’s last start Civic Stakes winner Haussmann ($6) chasing the Black-Type double at the track.
To check out the full Winter Stakes betting markets and promotions, including an exclusive Bonus Bet for 2nd or 3rd, head to Ladbrokes.com.au now!