The Golden Slipper is less than a month away and the next two weeks of juvenile racing are shaping as critical form references for the world’s richest two-year-old race.
Magic Millions winner Shaquero returns in the Skyline Stakes at Randwick on Saturday while two of Sydney’s most promising fillies, Four Moves Ahead and Mallory, clash in the Sweet Embrace Stakes.
Seven days later, unbeaten colt Remarque is set to lay his Slipper credentials bare in the Todman Stakes after missing the Silver Slipper due to a minor setback.
Tommy Berry has two Slippers on his resume courtesy of Overreach (2013) and Vancouver (2015) and he is yet to commit to his mount this year.
He will test Hawkes Racing colt Hilal in the Skyline and stablemate Remarque in next weekend’s Todman, while he is also keen on the chances of the Annabel Neasham-trained Northuldra in the Sweet Embrace Stakes.
“I think this week and next week in the Todman will sort the wheat from the chaff and where the best horses are going to lie leading into the big day,” Berry said.
Berry holds both Hilal and Northuldra in high regard and says the latter is a live chance at double-figure odds.
“She is one filly no-one should discount,” Berry said.
“What she did at her first start at Rosehill off one 740 metre trial was quite amazing. She hadn’t had a lot of work leading up to that and it was a very tough run, on the speed and on a wet deck.
“She will probably be one of my biggest-priced rides on the day but she will probably be one of my better rides on the day.”
Berry is also a big fan of Hilal.
The youngster scored a remarkable debut win, chasing down King Of Sparta who looked to have the race in the bag.
Berry says Hilal reminds him of Team Hawkes’ 2016 Caulfield Guineas winner Divine Prophet, who finished third in the Champagne Stakes as a two-year-old.
“Divine Prophet had a very good turn of foot over the shorter trips as well,” Berry said.
“To show the turn of foot he did when he won, and he wasn’t entitled to win on the day, was quite exciting.
“But he’s still got to step up and prove himself.”