Tommy Berry: All for his brother
RACING: On Golden Slipper day 12 months ago, Nathan Berry walked the Rosehill track with his then 22-year-old twin brother Tommy early in the morning to try to work out a race plan for the world's richest two-year-old classic.
Just hours later Nathan stood alongside his brother at the presentation after Tommy rode the perfect race on favourite Overreach to land the biggest win of his career.
Close to tears, Tommy paid an emotional tribute to his twin.
"He's been beside me for my whole career. My family has supported me so much," he said.
The entire racing industry has now thrown its support behind Tommy, who will ride $17 chance Valentia for trainer Gai Waterhouse in today's $3.5 million Slipper, just two days after Nathan passed away in a Sydney hospital from Norse syndrome, an acute form of epilepsy.
Victory would spark an outpouring of emotion, evoking memories of Damien Oliver's victory on Media Puzzle in the 2002 Melbourne Cup, one week after his brother Jason died in a trackwork accident in Western Australia.
Nathan had been booked to ride Unencumbered in the Slipper - he rode the colt to victory in the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast in January - with Craig Williams to take the mount.
Unbeaten filly Earthquake will start a short-priced favourite - she was quoted at $2.60 by Tattsbet yesterday - despite drawing poorly in barrier 13.
Trained by Peter Snowden for the powerful Darley stable owned by Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed, Earthquake won the $1 million Blue Diamond Stakes over the Slipper distance (1200m) on Feb 22, before downing Mossfun in the Reisling Slipper Trial (1200m) at Rosehill on March 22.
Mossfun looms as the biggest danger to Earthquake, co-trainer Michael Hawkes saying she overraced in the Reisling and was absolutely spot-on for today's assignment. Earthquake's stablemate Ghibellines also looks a genuine threat after his last-start win in last month's Todman Slipper Trial.
Outsider Alpha Miss will also have her admirers after running third to Earthquake and Mossfun last start.