Tommy Berry flew home from Hong Kong and was quick to win a Group 1 saluting aboard the Gold Coast-trained Eagle Way in the Queensland Derby 2016 for owner John Moore on Stradbroke Handicap Day.
Aussie expat Moore is a prolific trainer in Hong Kong, giving Berry familiar connections to ride for when partnering promising stayer Eagle Way in Saturday’s $600,000 Group 1 Channel 7 Queensland Derby (2400m).
Prepared by Bryan Guy on the Gold Coast, the More Than Ready gelding was kept in Australia and set specifically for the Derby bid, a plan that panned out perfectly at Eagle Farm Racecourse this Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
A winner of three of his 12 starts before the Group 1 test, Eagle Way came into the Queensland Derby via the traditional path having run fourth and second respectively to the Chris Waller-trained Mackintosh in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m) and Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) in Doomben.
He ate up the extra metres going up to the mile and a half for the first time on Straddie Day, Berry replacing the horse’s regular rider Paul Hammersley in the saddle.
“He had the perfect lead-up run,” Berry said of Eagle Way.
“And I do feel for Hammersley, he’s done all the work on this horse.”
Race favourite was the SA Derby winner Howard Be Thy Name from the Darren Weir stables, the top fancy beginning poorly and drifting back early.
Admiral Jello led the Queensland Derby field around with the likes of the John O’Shea-trained SA Derby runner-up Etymology from the outside alley and Waller’s in-form Grand Prix winner Mackintosh also up on the speed.
Berry meanwhile had the eventual champ Eagle Way settled towards the back half of the field biding his time as Etymology moved up to lead into the straight.
Over the closing stages Eagle Way ($9) moved up and hit the front, perhaps a little early according to Berry, but held strong and raced off for a two length win from another of Waller’s runners Rodrico ($20) who saluted over 2000m at Randwick the run before.
Finishing off the Queensland Derby trifecta was the local Desleigh Forster-trained Captain Sonador colt I’m Belucci, ridden by Jim Byrne, who improved on a last start sixth in the Grand Prix.
“He’s an out-and-out-stayer,” Berry said of Eagle Way.
“He got to the front a lot earlier than I wanted.
“But to his credit he got there and looked around, but was strong to the line.”
It is now likely off to Hong Kong for Eagle Way, while the other best three-year-old Queensland Derby runners will head for a spell before coming back in the spring.
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2016 Queensland Derby Results & Finishing Order
Eagle Farm Race 8 – 11/06/2016
|1||7||EAGLE WAY||Bryan Guy||Tommy Berry||–||11||57kg||$7|
|2||8||RODRICO||Chris Waller||Joao Moreira||1.8L||13||57kg||$26|
|3||5||I’M BELUCCI||Desleigh Forster||Jim Byrne||3.6L||12||57kg||$21|
|4||1||HOWARD BE THY NAME||Darren Weir||Brad Rawiller||4.9L||2||57kg||$3.50F|
|5||12||BRAZEN||David Vandyke||Zac Purton||7.7L||17||57kg||$31|
|6||10||RED ALTO||Paul Banks||Damien Oliver||7.8L||7||57kg||$51|
|7||2||ETYMOLOGY||John O’Shea||James McDonald||9.6L||18||57kg||$7|
|8||6||ENCOSTA LINE||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||12.4L||8||57kg||$10|
|9||14||ADMIRAL JELLO||Kris Lees||Aaron Bullock||12.6L||15||57kg||$61|
|10||18||HARVARD (NZ)||Ciaron Maher||Dwayne Dunn||12.9L||16||57kg||$81|
|11||13||ESCHIELE||John O’Shea||Damian Browne||13.7L||3||57kg||$7.50|
|12||11||MULTIFACETS (NZ)||Chris Waller||Tim Clark||18L||9||57kg||$31|
|13||19e||SLAUGHTER BAY||Bryan Dais||James Orman (a)||18.2L||4||57kg||$201|
|14||16||MAVEN WIZ||Anthony Cummings||Tye Angland||18.4L||1||57kg||$101|
|15||4||CYLINDER BEACH (NZ)||Desleigh Forster||Michael Cahill||18.5L||10||57kg||$26|
|16||15||SNAPPER||John Morrisey||Ryan Wiggins||20.8L||14||57kg||$101|
|17||17||STAR ZONE||Brian Gentle||Jason Collett||22.1L||6||57kg||$151|
|18||3||MACKINTOSH (NZ)||Chris Waller||Blake Shinn||34.1L||5||57kg||$4.60|
|–||9||COLONEL CUSTER (NZ)||Bjorn Baker||Adam Hyeronimus||–||0||–||–|