Top hoops fly in for tilt at Gold Cup

Top hoops fly in for tilt at Gold Cup
Jockey Tommy Berry (right) riding on Excel triumphs in the Singapore Airlines International Cup on 18 May 2014. Berry dedicated his win to his late brother, a fellow jockey.

The Longines Singapore Gold Cup meeting this Sunday will be boosted with the addition of one-day visiting jockeys Tommy Berry, Craig Newitt and Mark du Plessis in the Kranji riding ranks.

The trio will not be at their first ride in the Group 1 Longines Singapore Gold Cup.

Top Sydney jockey Berry won last year's edition with Tropaios and is back to ride the Michael Freedman-trained French import in his title defence bid.

Leading Melbourne jockey Newitt, who is already licensed to ride in Singapore for six months from Jan 1, 2015, is booked aboard Goodman for trainer Laurie Laxon while New Zealand-based du Plessis, who is no stranger to Singapore, will attempt to win his third Singapore Gold Cup with the David Hill-trained Flax.

Currently licensed by Racing New South Wales, Berry, 23, has ridden in excess of 550 winners in a seven-year-long career that saw him clinch the New South Wales champion apprentice jockey's title in the 2009/2010 season.

Since his first Group 1 success with Epaulette in the 2012 Golden Rose Stakes, Berry has gone on to build a reputation as a big-race jockey, both locally and overseas, mainly in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Racegoers will remember him as the jockey who rode Dan Excel to win the Singapore Airlines International Cup in May.

Berry, who goes to scale at 51.5kgs, came away with three Group 2 wins at the just-concluded Melbourne Spring Carnival, including the Herbert Power Stakes aboard Big Memory. He currently sits sixth on the Sydney jockey's premiership on 20 winners.

1,500 WINS

Tasmanian-born Newitt, 29, has in excess of 1,500 wins to his tally, including 27 at Group 1 level, the latest being the Manikato Stakes with Australian star sprinter Lankan Rupee last month.

On the international stage, he is best remembered for his victory in the 2007 Group 2 King's Stand Stakes aboard Miss Andretti at the Royal Ascot meeting in England.

Newitt is at his third Longines Singapore Gold Cup visit, having ridden Tenzing to fourth place in 2012 and Dragonfly to third place in 2013.

His very first ride at Kranji came in 2009 when he rode Australian visitor Pompeii Ruler to fourth place in the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup.

Newitt won the Tasmanian jockey's premiership in 2000-2001 while still an apprentice, the Melbourne apprentice jockey's premiership in 2002-2003 and the national Australian jockey's premiership in 2011-2012 on 185 winners, while a narrow second to Luke Nolen in the Melbourne jockey's premiership that same year.

He currently sits in seventh position on this season's Melbourne log on nine winners and goes to scale at 51kgs.

Born in Zimbabwe where he won an apprentice title in 1994/1995 before winning the senior title three years later, du Plessis, 39, became a New Zealand citizen shortly after he emigrated there in 1998.

After riding successfully in many countries, including Hong Kong and Singapore where he rode 253 winners from 2002 to 2006, the year he won the jockey's premiership, du Plessis has now firmly established himself as one of New Zealand's top jockeys.

Currently fourth on 28 winners on the New Zealand log, du Plessis, who goes to scale at 52kgs, has ridden more than 1,000 winners.

In Singapore, he earned his highest accolade when he won the Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint with Green Birdie in 2010, plus he also boasts two Singapore Gold Cup wins to his name, Zirna in 2003 and Raul in 2004.


This article was first published on Nov 13, 2014.
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