TOMMY BERRY was grilled by stewards and faces further inquiry into his ride after Driefontein was beaten as a $1.10 favourite by She's A Stalker in the Wyong Magic Millions for three-year-olds on Thursday.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained filly was subject to a pre-race vet check after rearing in the barriers but was cleared to run. In a surprise, the usually speedy Driefontein was crossed by $101 shot Fuming at the 800-metre mark.
It left Berry, who won the Magic Millions Classic on her last year, red-faced and being dictated to by main danger She's A Stalker.
Driefontein was pocketed to the turn and never able to make up the ground She's A Stalker had been able to establish on her. "We expected you to lead and were surprised when something crossed you,'' acting chairman of stewards Ray Livingstone said.
Waterhouse rarely gives up the lead and Berry admitted it wasn't one of his better rides.
"It was my instructions to lead and I never intended to give in up. I didn't realise how steady I was going until I saw the film," Berry said.
"I was just going to let her go through her gears but she couldn't pick up [and hold off Fuming]. I gave her a slap down the side with the whip but it was too late."
The drama was only heightened by concerns over whether Driefontein should have been allowed to run at all after a post-race vet inspection showed cuts to both stifles and her head. Berry told stewards he didn't feel Driefontein had struck her head when she reared up and briefly got her front legs over the front of the barriers. "She felt fine in her action and I didn't think she hit her head," he said.
Driefontein's head was not examined by the vet at the barrier, Chrissie Goldman, and she told stewards that the filly would have more than likely been scratched if she had seen a cut to the head.
Stewards will look at betting from the race before reconvening the inquiry into Berry's ride.
However, Corey Brown believed even if Driefontein had led, She's A Stalker would have given her a scare.
"It was all over when Tommy got crossed but that was just about it," Brown said. "There was still a bit of work to do but [She's A Stalker] is a very good filly and even if I had to chase something I think she would have put up a very good fight.
"It is great to have a winner like that for 'Ange' because I have been riding for her for a long time.
"She is only going to get better from that run … at 1400m at the Gold Coast she's going to be very hard to beat."
It was an emotional win for She's A Stalker's trainer, Angela Davies, who first saw her only hours before buying her.
"She got trapped in the floods at Toowoomba when the sale was on and only got there the day she was to be sold,'' Davies said. "I kept going to see her but she wasn't there.
"Once I did I knew I had to buy her. She will go to the Gold Coast now and hopefully do that again."