Racing: Berry saunters to the fifth century: The Cockerham trainer sets his sights on supplementing another ton with a first Group One success

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The Independent Online
JACK BERRY is not a trainer bound by convention. He habitually wears a red shirt at the racecourse, his idea of a slap-up meal for the family used to be egg and chips at the Forton service station on the M6, and visitors to his Cockerham yard have been startled by the sight of a pet llama working on the gallops.

But with Jack, one thing always seems predictable: that he will train at least 100 winners a season.

His century came up for the fifth successive year yesterday in beautifully typical style after he started the day on 98. Very Dicey took him within one of the ton at Bath, and Frisky Miss further illustrated Berry's embracing of wanderlust by bringing up the landmark at Pontefract.

To emphasise the trainer's lowly sights, this second victory was in the August Claiming Stakes, and to emphasise his speciality in thoroughbreds, both victories were achieved over five furlongs.

This, however, was not Berry's fastest century - that came three years ago when he went on to his highest total of 143 - but the relative tardiness did not appear to be gnawing at his marrow.

'I'm not particularly bothered about beating my best,' he said. 'If I can keep knocking in 100 every year I'll be happy. It takes a bit of doing, and there are always a few heartaches and traumas along the way.'

Now that he has mastered the numbers game, Berry's ambitions lie with individual races. His long-treasured desire to take the Ayr Gold Cup was satisfied six years ago with So Careful, and he now has his sights on something other than handicaps. He would like to win a Group One race. This wish may be close to fulfilment as the Moss Side Stables will wave off a plausible contender for the Heinz 57 Stakes at Leopardstown on Sunday in the shape of Mind Games.

The unbeaten colt finished almost four lengths ahead of General Monash when winning the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, yet Peter Chapple-Hyam's colt, who was said to be troubled by mouth ulcers in Berkshire, is the ante-post favourite. This analysis, it must be said, is not preventing Berry getting to sleep at night.

'The bookmakers won't make him (General Monash) go any faster,' he said yesterday. 'He may have had mouth ulcers at Royal Ascot, but he'll have blisters on his feet after chasing home Mind Games in Ireland.'

William Hill make General Monash, who won the Group Two Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte on his latest start, the 5-2 favourite for the six-furlong race and yesterday cut Mind Games half a point to 3-1. David Loder's Fallow, an unlucky loser at Goodwood, was eased out to 100-30.

Hopes will be entertained for all three that they can follow in the footsteps of Yenda as a horse winning away from British soil. Roger Charlton's filly, a half-sister to the trainer's 1990 Derby winner Quest For Fame and also a daughter of Dancing Brave, won the Listed Prix Thiberville at Deauville yesterday.

Yenda, who may now go for the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster, provided a winning return to the saddle for Pat Eddery, who has not ridden since suffering from stomach cramps on Saturday morning.

Lester Piggott's return from injury has been postponed by 24 hours until tomorrow. He had wanted to resume at Newmarket this evening but he could not secure any rides.

Dermot Weld yesterday urged punters to exercise caution before backing Blazing Spectacle for the Ebor Handicap. Since a decisive victory at Tipperary on Monday the horse has dropped from 25-1 to as low as 7-1 for the York race on 17 August. But the Curragh trainer said: 'It is interesting that until now nobody has asked me if the horse was going to run. All I can say is he is entered and we are considering running, but that is all.'

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