Berry banks on Phobetor’s fitness advantage

The Michael Costa-trained Phobetor faces his toughest challenge to date against multiple Group One winner Kolding in the Missile Stakes.

Trainer - MICHAEL COSTA Picture: Racing and Sports

There was a time when most of Tommy Berry's exchanges with Michael Costa happened in the stewards' room but at Randwick on Saturday, the pair will team up to chase a stakes win with Phobetor. 

Before taking out his trainers' licence, Costa was a Racing NSW steward and Berry a young jockey whose star was on the rise. 

Berry has no doubt Costa could have forged a successful career as a stipe, but he has been equally impressed with the inroads the now Queensland-based horseman has made as a trainer. 

"He chaired a few meetings there and I thought he had what it took to be a good steward, but he obviously wanted to go down a different path and started training at Warwick Farm with a small team," Berry said of Costa. 

"He always had different ideas on how to engage new owners to the sport. He's a very smart person and the way he built his business is very different to other people. It took him a bit of time at the start but he's going really well now." 

Costa, who has a strong social media presence, has been in tremendous form with 18 winners from his past 50 runners, including Seentoomany at Randwick in June and Purrfect Deal in the Grafton Cup

He narrowly missed capturing Grafton's feature race double when Phobetor was runner-up to Southern Lad in the Ramornie Handicap and the latter gets a chance to go one better in Saturday's Group Three Missile Stakes (1200m). 

It will be a solid test for the six-time winner and Berry is banking on his charge's race fitness to help him measure up against several higher-profile rivals, including Kolding and Fasika who are both resuming. 

"The horse seems like he's on a real upward spiral and he's racing with plenty of confidence," Berry said. 

"On the weekend he meets a few horses who he'll have fitness over, even though a couple there like Kolding have a bit more quality than him. 

"He's a horse with a fitness edge and that can win horses races at this time of year." 

Phobetor is on the fourth line of Missile Stakes betting at $6.50 with Fasika holding market sway at $2.60, ahead of Kolding ($4.40) and Viridine ($5). 


Racing and Sports