Top jockey Tommy Berry declared Angel Of Truth his “best chance” at Randwick on Saturday but it is the clash against Nature Strip in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) that has him most excited.
Berry will partner the Hawkes Racing-trained Dirty Work in the feature sprint and while he is not suggesting a boilover, he believes the $16 chance is set to become a big improver in his four-year-old season.
“Off what he’s been doing at home, I’m really keen to see how he is going to go against the likes of Nature Strip and Gytrash,” Berry said.
“I think he got a lot of confidence out of the back end of his preparation in the autumn.
“Every time I’ve sat on him this prep, at trackwork or at the trials, he gives you the feel he just wants to win and he’s never been that sort of horse.
“His mindset has changed a lot since his last preparation, it’s a classic case of the boy becoming a man.
“I’m not saying he is going to beat Nature Strip on Saturday but I think he will go better than people think.
“I am really keen to see how close he can get to The Everest horses because they are the yardstick in the Australian sprinting ranks.”
The 2019 Australian Derby winner Angel Of Truth is 489 days out of the winner’s circle since his famous win but his jockey in Saturday’s Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) believes there is cause for excitement after the horse’s first run for Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes.
The son of Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom (USA) was marked as a horse to follow after his fast finishing second to the in-form Man Of Peace at Randwick on August 15.
“He is my best chance on Saturday,” Berry said.
“He ran so well first-up. He was there to run well but I think he ran better than everyone thought because he still had plenty of improvement to come.
“He’s really come on since the first-up run and he should get a great run from that draw.
“Even the rain on Friday helped. He’ll love a little bit of give in the track, it would have just taken the fire out of it.”
Berry’s other ride for the Hawkes stable on Saturday is Rock in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m).
The Group 3 winning five-year-old returns with two trials under the belt but unlike Angel Of Truth, Friday’s rain has not done the gelding any favours.
“Rock has always been a really good worker and he’s part of the reason why I’m keen to see how Dirty Work goes because they’ve been galloping together,” Berry said.
“He’s likely to get back in an awkward spot and get home with the flashing light. He doesn’t want it any wetter than a soft (5).”
Rock is rated a $13 chance in early markets.