TJ Smith Stakes 2015: Berry keen to repay Hawkes with G1 win

Tommy Berry will be doing some serious speed dating when it comes to three of his Group One mounts at Randwick on Saturday.

The Golden Slipper-winning jockey will be having his first race rides on Chautauqua in the TJ Smith Stakes, Hallowed Crown in the Doncaster Mile and English in the Sires’ Produce Stakes.

And perhaps because he isn’t acquainted with the trio under race conditions, the young jockey has left no stone unturned in ensuring he is across their recent form.

Chautauqua shapes as Berry’s best chance to claim a major in the same week that marks the first anniversary of the death of his twin brother Nathan from Norse syndrome.

The Hawkes Racing-trained sprinter is a $2.60 favourite for the TJ Smith Stakes in which he will be bidding for his first Group One win.

A strong first-up winner of the Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield, Chautauqua finished second to Brazen Beau in the Newmarket Handicap last start in a run Berry said confirmed the four-year-old’s status as a Group One winner-in-waiting.

“Whether he should have won last start I’m not sure but he should have gone close,” Berry said.

“He was on the back of the winner and cost himself ground trying to get out.

“He is a Group One sprinter who hasn’t won one yet.”

While Berry hasn’t ridden Chautauqua in a race, he has developed a strong partnership with the horse’s trainers.

Berry has been doing the bulk of recent riding for the Hawkes stable in Sydney but the combination has been without luck.

“It has been a mix of things, horses not performing to their best or bad barriers or no luck,” Berry said.

“It would be nice to repay them with a big one.”

The tempo of the TJ Smith looks to play into the hands of Chautauqua with front-runners Rain Affair and Lord Of The Sky sure to establish a strong early pace.

That is also likely to suit the horse regarded as Chautauqua’s biggest stumbling block in Terravista.

The most fancied of Joe Pride’s three TJ Smith runners, Terravista beat Chautauqua in the Darley Classic last spring and will strip fitter for his first-up third in the Newmarket Handicap.

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