Jockey Tommy Berry highly rates the chances of Japanese galloper Curren Mirotic for this year’s Melbourne Cup 2016 who he rides overseas this weekend.
A decade ago in 2006 Japan ran the Melbourne Cup quinella in the world’s richest handicap with stablemates Delta Blues and Pop Rock finishing one-two in the famous Flemington two mile feature.
No Japanese-trained raider has won since, but Berry believes that could change when this year’s edition of the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) takes place on Tuesday November 1.
One of the top early favourites in pre-nomination Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $21 for the win, Curren Mirotic will begin to put his claims for the ‘race that stops a nation’ on the line running this weekend in Japan.
The Osamu Hirata-trained son of Heart’s Cry will have Berry in the saddle at Hanshin on Sunday, the veteran eight-year-old racing in the Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) that offers around AUD$4 million in prize money.
Curren Mirotic hasn’t raced since early last month when second to Kitasan Black in the Group 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) over the two miles.
If the galloper shows good form on Sunday, Berry believes him a genuine hope of success for his country down under in the Melbourne Cup this spring.
“There’s about six top Group 1 horses in the race,” Berry told Racing Ahead on RSN 927, speaking of the classy Takarazuka Kinen field.
“My horse is going well – he finished second or third in this race last year.
“He’s definitely capable of doing it at the distance, but against the quality of field at the distance is the query.
“This is one of his prep runs for the Melbourne Cup, so we’re hoping he runs a nice race, finishes off well and pulls up good after as well.
“I think it’s great – the last time they [Japan] brought a horse that could run on the pace was Pop Rock and Delta Blues.
“The last few years they’ve been bringing horses that have been getting back, and have been frustrated by some slow tempos.
“They’ve found another horse in the same mould as Pop Rock and Delta Blues that runs on the pace.
“Hopefully we can get him over here in one piece.”
Last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Japan was represented in the Melbourne Cup by the Yoshitada Munakata-trained favourite Fame Game ($5) who could only manage to finish 5.5 lengths away 13th behind the upset winner Prince Of Penzance ($101).
Berry said that there were comparisons to be made between Curren Mirotic and Fame Game.
“I think you can really match him up with Fame Game,” Berry, who has had three Melbourne Cup rides over the years without success, said.
“He ran third to him in the Tenno Sho last year before Fame Game came over for the spring.
“He beat Fame Game this year in the Tenno Sho.
“He’s an older horse, he’s rising nine. He’s got maturity on his side which I think is an important thing.
“To be able to race on the pace will be a big benefit with our Melbourne Cup always run at a slow tempo.”
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