Berry The Cash makes a mess of rivals at Te Rapa

Berry The Cash
Berry The Cash cruises to victory at Te Rapa. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Berry The Cash added another dominant hurdle victory to his ever-growing list of achievements at Te Rapa.

Prepared by Mark Oulaghan, Berry The Cash made a bold statement winning last year’s Grand National Hurdles (4200m) in his first season over fences, and he picked up where he left off in the hurdling role with a comfortable victory in the Awapuni Hurdle (3000m) last month.

The son of Jakkalberry ventured north to Te Rapa for his next assignment as a $1.70 favourite with horse racing bookies, with his closest danger returning star hurdler Nedwin at $5.80, who won last year’s Great Northern Hurdles (4200m) and started the 73kg topweight on Saturday.

In the hands of regular rider Portia Matthews, Berry The Cash settled into his work in midfield, while English Gambler soon broke away to a 15-length margin in his typical front-running style.

The lead was narrowed as the field headed down the back straight for the final time, the charge led by a cruising Berry The Cash, who got on even terms with English Gambler passing the 600m mark while the remainder of the field were well off the bridle.

Berry The Cash hit the front turning for home and the margin was extending as English Gambler fell at the second-last, leaving Matthews to guide the seven-year-old to an 11-length demolition over Smug and Lord Spencer, who fought gamely into the minor placings.

Matthews shook her head and saluted in admiration of the gelding passing the post, their partnership now spanning five wins from nine attempts.

“He’s incredible, and we haven’t seen the end of it now,” she said.

“I ride him differently when English Gambler is in the race because I don’t want to put myself too far behind, but I know when English Gambler stops, he stops very quickly and with the ground being the way it was with the extra distance, I knew that the track was going to suit my horse better. I never panicked, and I knew it was coming up for me.

“He gets a couple of rough ones (jumps), but I’ve ridden him all the way through, so I know what to expect. We’ve worked our way over those rough ones, and he just goes phenomenally.

“He’s only a second-season jumper and Mark has been very patient with him, I can’t thank him enough for the connection with this horse and carrying on through our ups and downs.
“The group of owners have been wonderful and have supported me all of the way.”

Oulaghan had left Berry The Cash in the care of Tommy Hazlett for the meeting, a former top jump’s jockey who had major success for the stable with notable partnerships including Yourtheman and Counter Punch.

“The boss (Oulaghan) has done it again. He had a fair idea 18 months ago that this horse had a fair bit of potential, and his run the other day at Woodville was absolutely magnificent,” Hazlett said.

“Isn’t she (Matthews) riding well, she’s really turned a leaf this year. She’s relaxed, she’s not overthinking things, she sees a stride well, and she gets along with this horse absolutely fantastically,

“I was a bit worried when Portia started to chase the tearaway leader (English Gambler) at the half-mile because I had my doubts whether or not he would stay, but I’ve been away from the game a long time and I’d be far from telling her what to do.

“She’s done a great job, and he’s a serious animal this horse.”

The victory also extended Mathews’ lead atop the Jump Jockey’s Premiership with 10 wins, two ahead of Shaun Fannin. She added a further win two races later aboard stablemate Super Spirit in the day’s maiden steeplechase.

Berry The Cash has won $192,100 in stakes earnings for connections in 27 starts.

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