Jewels in the crosshairs for talented two-year-old

Mike Berger - Trish Dunell
Mike Berger

Trish Dunell

The Mike Berger-trained Eagle Watch remains on target for a tilt at the Gr.1 Harness Jewels 2YO Emerald at Addington on June 1 after a gritty runner-up performance over 1700m at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

The son of He’s Watching currently lies sixth on the Jewels leaderboard and Berger was pleased with how his charge ran home late to finish within a head of Bad To The Bone on Friday.

“We were pretty happy with his run,” Berger said. “He did a bit of work in the race and was three-wide around that last bend. They went 1.56.5, so it was pretty good.”

Eagle Watch had to overcome another wide draw on Friday night (barrier seven) and Berger is hoping for a change of luck heading into the business end of the season.

“He hasn’t had much luck with draws,” he said. “I think the only good draw he has had was in the Young Guns Final where he ran third. That’s the only decent draw he has had all season. He hasn’t had much luck in that department.”

Eagle Watch drew the ace barrier in the Gr.1 Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes (1700m) at Alexandra Park last month and Berger was buoyed by that performance even though his two-year-old didn’t do everything right on the night.

“We were happy with his run in the Young Guns Final,” he said. “He got a good trip and he just hung in a little bit and went a little bit rough. Todd (Mitchell, driver) said he probably would have run second. He didn’t steer 100 percent that night, but it was a good effort.”

While the Jewels remains Eagle Watch’s main target for the season, Berger is eyeing more Group One spoils, with the Garrards Sires’ Stakes 2YO Final (1980m) at Addington on May 17 firmly on the radar.

“There’s a Sires’ Stakes heat (1700m) out here at Cambridge on April 18,” Berger said.

“That will be his next start and hopefully we can make that and if not we will just start in the Silver, which is a fortnight before the Jewels. They are the two main ones that we are hoping to get into.”

Meanwhile, Berger will take last-start winners Arty Pharty and Mhai Uptown Girl south to Manawatu Raceway next week where he is hoping they can make it back-to-back wins.

“They are not superstars, but we will take them down and see how they go,” he said.

“It’s always hard when you just win a race because with the rating system, which I think is a shocker, your one win horse who has just won a maiden race can end up racing four and five win horses.

“With that rating system it makes it really hard to take that next step.” – Cambridge Raceway


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