James McDonald might have deposed him as the Sydney premiership pacesetter but Tommy Berry is determined to continue his good start to the season at Randwick where he has another strong book of rides.

Berry hit the ground running to lead the metropolitan jockeys’ title during the opening weeks of the new season before defending champion McDonald hit back with a flurry of winners.

Having had a frustrating run of careless riding suspensions during the first half of the year, Berry was keen to begin the new term on the right foot, which included staying out of the stewards’ room.

“It was nice to start off the season in good form,” Berry said.

“James didn’t take long to get past me. I think he had about nine winners in three meetings but that’s what James does, he rides the best.

“I’m very pleased with where I’m at and I’m getting some good support.”

Hawkes Racing is among Berry’s biggest backers and the hoop will team up with them when he partners recent stable acquisition Angel Of Truth in the Group Two Chelmsford Stakes (1600m).

The 2019 Australian Derby winner lost form last season but indicated he was back in business when he resumed with a closing second to a race-fit Man Of Peace in the Spring Preview.

“They say a change is as good as a holiday sometimes,” Berry said.

“It just changes their training routine around and sometimes it can spark a little bit of life back into them.

“He is no oil painting to look at and same to ride, he’s a no-nonsense sort of horse. But the way he let down the other day really impressed me.”

Angel Of Truth will be one of two Chelmsford runners for the Hawkes stable along with Australian Derby runner-up Zebrowski.

The duo take on an army of nine runners from the Chris Waller camp, although it is Godolphin’s Avilius who holds sway in markets.

Berry and Team Hawkes will also combine in the Tramway Stakes (1400m) with the talented Rock, who returns from an autumn campaign cut short due to wet tracks.

Firm ground and a genuine tempo are key to his chances but if he gets conditions to suit, Berry says Rock can put himself on an Epsom path.

“He trialled on a soft track which isn’t to his liking and he will really enjoy getting on top of the ground on Saturday,” Berry said.

Team Hawkes sprinter Dirty Work and the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Dame Giselle round out Berry’s feature race rides in the Concorde Stakes (1000m) and Furious Stakes (1200m) respectively.


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