Impressive Ajax Stakes winner Niagara will push for a Doncaster start when he backs up in the $400,000 Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Niagara and Tommy Berry, picture Sportpix.com.au.
The three-year-old colt was explosive when winning with ease last start and currently 32 on the order of entry for the Doncaster Mile is uncertain of a start.
Beating the older horses in the Ajax, the Gai Waterhouse-trained runner will have to mix it in weight for age for the first time but jockey Tommy Berry is confident the colt can mix it with the best.
“He is a horse that has always shown good ability but he added a new bow to his string the other day and showed a good turn of foot and it looks as if the penny has finally dropped with him,” Berry said.
“He has drawn awkward out in barrier 15 but I can’t see a heap of pace in it apart from Love Conquers All and King Mufhasa and outside them there appears to be a lack of pace so we shouldn’t have any trouble getting across,” he added.
Waterhouse has given the son of Encosta De Lago an easy week with a beach session on Wednesday and just some light cantering.
“I don’t think Saturdays run took anything out of him and he won it quite easy,” Berry said.
“I think he is definitely up to the challenge, he is favourite at the moment and you don’t beat the older horses like he did last time and not have good ability, but he has to run very well on Saturday to be competitive in a Doncaster.”
The young jockey who has been in tremendous form of late has been booked to ride Niagara if he pushes on towards the Doncaster providing he rides the colt well enough on Saturday.
“I think he is definitely the right horse for the Doncaster, it’s always a great race for myself and my brother Nathan to get a ride in because we are lightweight riders.”
“I am looking forward to seeing what he can do on Saturday but we think he can make the step up and run very well.”
Niagara currently holds favouritism on Tab Sportsbet fixed odds at $5 ahead of King Mufassa at $7 and last years winner Rangirangdoo along with Secret Admirer at $8.
Berry will also partner Driefontein in the Golden Slipper earlier in the program who remains unbeaten from three starts and is currently $17 on Tab fixed odds.
“She is the fresh horse on the scene and you can’t fault her form, four wins from four starts and there is good form around her as well,” said Berry.
“Her work has been outstanding at home and we will look to be up in the first four from the barrier but I don’t want to use her up to much.”
“She has been forgotten a little bit because she hasn’t raced for a few weeks and you see another two-year-old come out and run well but it takes pressure of me and the horse and we can go out and ride our own race.”