The distinctive mark of Gai Waterhouse’s lipsticked kiss on his cheek said it all as Tommy Berry celebrated the biggest moment of his career at Rosehill yesterday.
The 22-year-old emerged from the high-pressure cauldron of the $3.5 million Golden Slipper triumphant, and a little tearful.
Berry handled the occasion like a man beyond his years, parking favourite Overreach on the fence before getting out to the better ground in the straight and guiding the explosive filly to a 1-3/4 length victory.
Along with Nash Rawiller, Berry is stable rider for Waterhouse and after partnering Overreach to successive wins in the Widden and Reisling Stakes, he was rewarded with the Slipper mount.
Last spring Berry enjoyed a red letter day when he won the Group One Metropolitan and Epsom Handicap on the same program but there is little in Sydney racing that compares with a Golden Slipper.
“I’m so lucky to be in this position,” Berry said. “Gai, hasn’t she turned my career around. She is an absolute marvel. It’s a race everyone wants to win. The Golden Slipper is like a Melbourne Cup. I never thought this would happen to me, especially not this early.”
While Tommy was winning the world’s richest two-year-old race, twin brother Nathan was watching from the jockeys’ room at Rosehill. He quickly made his way out to the mounting enclosure and was the first person Tommy embraced, even before he had dismounted.
Because make no mistake, Nathan was an integral part of the victory.
The pair had walked the track prior to the Slipper and hatched a plan for Tommy to stick to the fence until halfway up the straight. The inside had been somewhat of a no-go zone earlier in the day but Nathan convinced his brother to believe in himself.
“I said `back your judgement, you’re on the best horse in the race’,” Nathan Berry said. “He’s handled it well, handled the pressure great.”
The brothers celebrated the Slipper victory together on Saturday night. For one of them, the weekend has brought the realisation of a treasured childhood dream. For the other, a shared sense of it and also a taste of what might lay ahead.
“I’m so proud,” Nathan said. “Our work ethic has been our main plan and it has all paid off.”
We’re sure the 2013 Golden Slipper also paid off for some lucky horse betting William Hill customers!