Gai Waterhouse congratulates jockey Tommy Berry. Photo: Janie Barrett
SYDNEY jockey Tommy Berry yesterday gave the credit for his Epsom Handicap win on Fat Al to the four-year-old's trainer Gai Waterhouse, who claimed her seventh success in the group 1 feature.
Berry, 21, said that since joining the Waterhouse stable his career had blossomed, saying that not only was she a great trainer but she had also inspired him.
''She's a marvel. She's a champion. What she's done for my career is simply amazing,'' he said. ''I've been with her 18 months and I've learnt so much and my career has got better and better.
''When I rode Fat Al around to the barriers he felt so fresh and so fit. It was just a typical Waterhouse horse ready for a major race.''
Fat Al, the $4.60 favourite, bounded straight to the lead in the 1600-metre event and, despite a late challenge from the heavily supported Peter Snowden-trained Ambidexter ($5.50), managed to hold on and win by a head. Rolling Pin, a $41 chance ridden by apprentice Chad Schofield, was third, 1½ lengths away.
Waterhouse, who has been training for 20 years, equalled the record of seven Epsom wins of her father, Tommy Smith.
And the win gave her daughter Kate, who part owns Fat Al, her biggest success.
Waterhouse said that Fat Al would come to Melbourne but it was likely to be for the group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600 metres) on the final day of the VRC's four-day Melbourne Cup carnival.
''Let's let the dust settle though, let's go home and just plan what we'll do, but it will be a later arrival than earlier in Melbourne,'' she said.
''He's done a fabulous job today. Tommy let him run out there in front and Fat Al just went whoosh. I'm so pleased for Tommy, he rode him perfectly. Just how we wanted.
''This was not a change of instructions today because last week at Rosehill he was up against a blinding wind that was making it so hard for those horses exposed to it.
''So we just tucked him in behind that day, but today Tommy rated him perfectly.
''He had him in a perfect rhythm and that's what you need when you let horses stride out in front.''
Waterhouse, who has enjoyed a stunning run of late, could have up to 15 horses in Melbourne over the next six weeks, with possibly three Cox Plate competitors.
Fat Al went out with a two-length break in the middle stages yesterday but on the home turn looked like being overrun, but he fought off the challenges of Ambidexter and Rolling Pin.
Trainer Gwenda Markwell said she was impressed with Rolling Pin's third and would go ahead with plans to start the gelding in Melbourne, but would bring the five-year-old back in distance.
The disappointments of the Epsom were trainer Chris Waller's trio of runners who finished well back. Shoot Out ($6) finished seventh, Rangirangdoo ($12) 12th and Said Com ($17) 11th. All were beaten soon after straightening and never threatened.
Victorian Yosei, a $21 chance ridden by Glyn Schofield, ruined her chances when she stood flat-footed in the barriers, missing the start by several lengths.
Kontiki Park, ridden by Berry's brother Nathan, also bungled the start and finished last.
Snowden said he was undecided whether to send Ambidexter to Melbourne for the carnival.