John O’Shea left Hawkesbury a happy trainer on Thursday after claiming victory in the featured Rowley Mile with his grey gelding Berdibek.
The eight-year-old was last seen in the Grafton Cup over 2350m on July 28, but after a quick freshen-up and a soft time at the trials between runs, O’Shea sent his four-time winner around in the midweek 1600m feature.
Berdibek was given a brilliant ride and did enough to beat this year’s Queensland Derby winner, Kukeracha, by just under half a length.
O’Shea has had plenty of luck with his hit-and-run missions over the past week, securing wins with Mascherata at Scone last Thursday as his only starter, Jal Lei at Randwick-Kensington on Wednesday as the stable’s only runner and again today with Berdibek.
The son of Dark Angel got back in the run from barrier five under Brenton Avdulla and followed James McDonald and Kukeracha everywhere they went to score a 0.3-length victory.
“Most importantly, a lot of credit must go to Brenton,” O’Shea told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
“He’s always ridden the horse very well and today he executed it well.
“We were hopeful to be on the back of James in the run and that’s where we landed and when James sort of made his way through, Brenton got on his back and the rest is history.”
O’Shea was full of praise for Berdibek post-race, saying that it was a well-earned Listed win on Australian shores for the former French horse.
“He’s been a deserved winner of a Listed race in Australia to be fair,” he said.
“He’s been a little unlucky, but he’s been a very enjoyable horse for his owners, so I’m really happy for them.”
Avdulla was quick to highlight the hard work of O’Shea and his staff, pointing out that Berdibek is not the easiest horse to manage off the track.
“He’s always been a talented horse,” Avdulla said.
“Full credit to John and the team today because he’s not easy; even race day he’s quite difficult, so how they get him to the races is unbelievable because he’s a very strong horse.
“He was lucky that he had good tempo today.
“I was able to follow ‘Mac’ (James McDonald) from the low draw – he went out but I was just full of horse, I couldn’t break his momentum so I went in and joined back out and I was always confident I’d be the strongest late.”
Berdibek is currently a $21 chance in the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap, which looks a likely target, while Kukeracha could be on a course for the Caulfield Cup ($41) and Melbourne Cup ($67).