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BERRY WILL RIDE ROTHFIRE IN THE STRADBROKE

By Graham Potter | Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Tommy Berry will take over the reins of the Robert Heathcote trained Rothfire in the $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on June 11.

Jimmy Orman, who is leading the Brisbane Jockey’s Premiership, has ridden the son of Rothesay in all three starts this preparation, but the 54.5kg allocated to Rothfire, which Orman would struggle to make, meant that Heathcote had to search for another rider.

The search had been on a while, with Heathcote exercising patience, before Berry landed the role.

‘Jimmy (Orman) would struggle to ride 54.5,” explained Heathcote. “He would have to cut his right leg off.

“It was quite funny. I was standing there, and Craig Williams and Tommy Berry were standing there … and I said, ‘you boys got a ride in the Stradbroke’?

“Craig said, ‘I do.’ Tommy said, ‘I don’t.’ I said do you want to ride Rothfire,’ and he put his hand straight up.”

And what about the horse itself?

“He ran exactly how I expected him to run last Saturday (in the Group 1Kingsfrd-Smith Cup),” said Heathcote.” (Rothfire finished a highly creditable fourth in the race, less than half-a-length behind the winner, Apache Chase).

“The pundits … you know those people who are called experts … they wrote him off after the Victory Stakes. He was gassed there … first-up. He went too hard. Then in the second run in the Doomben 10 000 he was on an unsuitable heavy track … along the rail … so he had excuses both times.

“I really expected a huge performance last Saturday. In hindsight, Jimmy probably spent a little bit too long trying to restrain Rothfire back into that hole. He parked him in there nicely … but they then walked, so ultimately it would have been better to go forward and sit outside Apache Chase, but we didn’t know that at the time, so, that’s no knock on Jimmy. It’s just a view with hindsight.

“It was a lovely Stradbroke trial,” continued Heathcote.

“He knew he had had the run … yes … but he’ll be fine for the Stradbroke.

“And, look, just having him back … I mean if you knew the true extent of his injury (which kept Rothfire away from racing action for a full twelve months) you would understand that he is defying veterinary science.

“To defy veterinary science like he has … to even get back racing is good enough in itself, but to be competitive at Group 1 level is huge.”

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Tommy Berry
Tommy Berry
Rothfire

Photos: Darren Winningham
Rothfire

Photos: Darren Winningham
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