Fran Berry: Fresh perspective
Top jockey Fran Berry reflects on his first season as stable jockey for Ralph Beckett and looks at the Breeders' Cup and Doncaster in his final Sporting Life blog of the year.
When I've been fit and riding it's been a very good season.
There have been a lot of nice winners along the way, Listed and Group winners, winners at York and at Royal Ascot but one week after the latter I was in hospital with a fractured vertebra.
I had a good day at Newbury a couple of weeks ago with a double when Pleaseletmewin won the Horris Hill and again, a week later I fractured my foot.
The injury is good. I saw my surgeon on Tuesday and he's happy with the fracture – it won't require surgery, just plenty of rest.
It's the third metatarsal which is only a small bone but it's an important one and takes all the pressure from the body. It could be anywhere between a month to eight weeks and I've another appointment at the end of the month.
The injuries have been frustrating but Monday at Kempton puts everything into perspective. It was an horrific incident, and all our thoughts are with Freddy and his family.
It's just been one of those seasons for me but it's been good; a very positive experience and I've enjoyed meeting, and riding for, new people. We're thankful for all those who have been so nice to us as a family since we've arrived and helped us to settle in.
The travelling is more full on than in Ireland. We don't have any double meetings at home and that is the tougher bit but you just have to be more organised and have a system in place and I've used a driver when I've needed to. I enjoy being busy though and the workload has been good and has helped my weight which is as good as it's ever been – I've been at 8-9 through the summer.
It's been a pleasure to ride for Ralph Beckett, his team and his owners and to do well for them while I've also had plenty of outside rides. It's been a learning curve and hopefully that will pay off next year.
"We've Moonrise Landing to come back too. There looks to be a bit of a gap in the stayers for next year and if she can come back to the same level of form, it could be exciting."
I'm already looking forward to next season and there are some nice prospects like Crimson Rock who made a winning debut that day at Newbury. Sound Bar won there the day before despite still being green and is another obvious prospect.
We've Moonrise Landing to come back too. I rode her when we beat Quest For More in a Listed race at York and on a line through him you'd have to think she could have been competitive in all the big staying races. There looks to be a bit of a gap in the stayers for next year and if she can come back to the same level of form, it could be exciting.
Everything is a little up in the air for the winter at the moment. I had planned to ride until Christmas and then, possibly, have January off. I could go back to Japan if I get my licence but I won't know about that until the middle of the month.
We travel together and get a lot of down time as a family as we only ride Saturday and Sunday which is good.
Either way, I plan to be back riding on the all-weather in February and March to get ready for the new season and will be fresh for the new year.
There's been some good racing over the last couple of weeks and it was great to see my Royal Ascot winner Kinema win for his owners on the Melbourne Cup card but I was gutted for Tony Martin that Heartbreak City was beaten so narrowly in the main event after going all that way.
I rode Heartbreak City in the Cesarewitch last year when I got down to 8-8 but he didn't stay. It was no surprise to me though that he's developed into such a high class stayer; it was a phenomenal performance and just goes to highlight how good a trainer Tony is – he's class.
"Found is so tough and it's remarkable how she backs-up her runs from one top-class race to another. It would be great to see her win this and go out on a high."
I've ridden on some big days around the world but I've never ridden at a Breeders' Cup and I would love to ride at one at Santa Anita. It's the best venue for the Breeders' Cup and I'd love it if the chance ever arose.
It's Bonfire Night on Saturday and I'll be off to that with the family but I'll be back in time for the racing!
I'm looking forward to the Mile and that race stands out to me with Tepin, Alice Springs and Limato – it's a really tight contest. Alice Springs has an inside draw and that may just shade it for her as the other two are wider and it's a short run to the first bend. It's a top class race to watch.
There are a lot of familiar names in the turf, either Europeans or ex-Europeans, but Found is a worthy favourite. She's so tough and it's remarkable how she backs-up her runs from one top-class race to another. It would be great to see her win this and go out on a high.
I don't know what will win the Fillies & Mares but I don't think it will be Seventh Heaven. I rode against her at Lingfield in the Oaks Trial when I was on Architecture and she seemed to struggle on the track a bit that day. She showed how good she can be at York and the Curragh where she was able to use her big stride on those long straights but 10 furlongs on a sharp track could be a problem for her.
I'll be cheering for California Chrome in the Classic. Obviously Arrogate is a threat if he can reproduce the form of his Saratoga win and Chrome will need to be at his best if he does, but I think he can handle him.
Before then there's the final day of the turf season at Doncaster where the ground is unseasonably quick. It was nearly unraceable when Litigant won the November Handicap last season and the conditions will probably count against a lot of horses that might have been kept back for this time of year.
I haven't got a strong opinion on the race but I do think Ceol Na Nog could be a bit of value in the fillies' Listed race. She won a very competitive Navan handicap last time and is obviously a filly in form. It looks significant that Jim Bolger is bringing her over to England at this time of year.
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