Q and A with leading flat jockey Fran Berry


Growing increasingly frustrated at not being able to secure a top-quality rider on a regular basis, trainer Ralph Beckett looked to Ireland to solve his problem and snapped up leading jockey Fran Berry to be his new number one rider. Berry is no stranger to working abroad having spent time in Japan but it was still a big decision to leave Ireland and head for Britain. Fortunately for him and Beckett, their new association has got off to a strong start and things start to move up a gear from this weekend forward.

Berry took some time out to talk Classic trials, his plans to for the season and his aim to get to Legoland Windsor for a look around!

Carntop looked a smart sort as a juvenile last year. How do you rate his prospects of staying the trip at the weekend and putting himself in the Derby picture?
Carntop’s bred to get this trip and we would be very hopeful that he’ll get it. He stayed on well to the line over the last two furlong when he won over a mile at Newmarket. As he’s had only two starts you would hope he can improve on his form. He’s in good shape and we’re looking forward to find out how he measures up against his rivals on Saturday with a view to where we go with him through the season – the Derby is the dream at this stage!

Architecture has a similar profile to Carntop. What are you expecting from her in the Oaks Trial?
I’m really looking forward to riding her. Like Carntop she has to step up from winning in maiden company and I hope that she will prove up to the task. Hugo Palmer’s horses have been in great form and hopefully this filly can continue his good run.

How important do you think Classic trials are in the assessment of horses for the Derby and Oaks?
Very. It’s the first opportunity you get to see what horses have progressed over the winter and it allows you to asses whether a horse will have the stamina and the class to step to the Derby or Oaks distance. These races usually shape the market for the Classics themselves.

You are stable jockey to Ralph Beckett this season. How have you found it in your new environment?
So far so good. I’m really enjoying working with Ralph and his team, getting to know his horses and various owners. It’s a new challenge for me and my family. I have settled in well and we’re really looking forward to the season ahead. Fingers crossed we can have some luck together.

I’ve only seen her from a distance at home but she looks like a filly that has physically progressed from three to four. Although she was beaten at Newmarket, I thought she ran a very pleasing race given that last season she improved with every start through the season. Hopefully she can do the same again.

You ride Reignon for Ralph in the final race at Lingfield on Saturday. What do you make of the stable juveniles in general?
It’s very early days with them but they seem like a nice bunch. It’ll be nice to get Reignon started off on Saturday as well. We’ve run a couple of two-year-old’s so far that shaped well and should improve for their initial outings. Hopefully he can do the same.

You plan to ride in Ireland as well during this season. Why was it important to you to maintain that link?
The answer is twofold. Firstly, if there is Sunday racing in Britain it’s generally in the north and at a lower level, whereas Sunday’s the best day of the week in Ireland. Also the various trainers and owners I rode for at home were extremely good to me over the years and they were very supportive of my move to Britain. I feel it’s very important to go back and ride for them when asked to and, hopefully, I might find a Royal Ascot or a big handicap horse along the way as well!

It was a shame to miss Chester as I was looking forward to riding her for the first time. Perhaps the Yorkshire Cup next Friday at York will be where we see her next.

Talking of York, the Dante meeting takes place next week. Is there anything you are looking forward to riding over the three days?
Pacify will hopefully run in the first race on Wednesday. He ran a great race at Epsom to be second on his first start back this season and hopefully he can go well next week.

And, finally, when you are not racing how do you like to spend your time off?
I have a 22-month-old son Jordan. My wife Laura and I are having great fun with him at the moment. I’m looking forward to exploring Legoland in Windsor and some of the local zoo’s with them when we get a chance.

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