Just like Christmas for Berry

It started with a Christmas card to Overreach's owner-breeder George Altomonte and ended with a Golden Slipper for jockey Tommy Berry at Rosehill on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, who oozes class and dignity, repaid the faith of the breeder, who fulfilled his dream after more than 30 years. But he singled out trainer Gai Waterhouse, a Slipper winner for the fifth time, for turning his career around.

"It was probably the cheapest card I have ever brought but the most important one," Berry said.

He won the Widden Stakes on Overreach and jumped off the Exceed And Excel filly and quickly asked about the Slipper ride.

"He got off and said to me, 'can I ride her in the Slipper?'," Altomonte said. "I said, 'can't see why not'. I rang Gai the next day and from then on he was my jockey.

"You want to win this race as a breeder and to be the owner as well is amazing."

But the young man produced a ride of an old head. Berry jumped Overreach to the front before taking a sit behind Kuroshio.

"Once I jumped like that it was over," Berry said. "Everyone was talking about [the pressure] in the lead-up to the race, but I have never been so relaxed going into a big race. I knew I was on the best horse and I rode her like it. She just quickened so well when I asked her to go and there was nothing that was going to get me."

Berry was greeted by his twin brother, Nathan, as he returned and gave credit to him.

"I walked the track with him after The BMW and he gave me even more confidence to stick to the rail," Berry said. "We couldn't see anything wrong with it. I told Gai what I wanted to do and she just said 'do it, as long as you win'."

Overreach left no rival with an excuse as she won by 1¾ lengths from Sidestep, with Sweet Idea, another Waterhouse charge, a length away in third.

"She showed her superiority. How about the way she flew the gates, absolutely flew the gates - Tommy was as cool as a cucumber … just sat there and let them pass him a bit," Waterhouse said.

"We talked about the track long and hard before the race and [Tommy] said I am going to put her right on the fence, he said 'I think I have a really good chance of getting to the better ground' and it was all over red rover, wasn't it?"

Berry said Waterhouse had turned his career around.

''She has made me the rider I am and I'm so happy that I could win this for her," Berry said. "I can't tell what she has done for me as a person."

Darley trainer Peter Snowden said Sidestep was beaten squarely by Overreach. "When she sprinted she showed how superior she was to them," he said. "He was match better today with the blinkers but was simply no match for the winner."

Darley could take some pride in its stallion Exceed And Excel having bred first, second and fourth, Guelph, in the biggest race for two-year-olds.

The story Just like Christmas for Berry first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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