Nathan Berry is yet to reach the heights of his Golden Rose rivals but the talented young jockey declared he won’t be overawed when he partners Aeronautical in Saturday’s $1 million feature.
Berry, 20, is chasing a breakthrough win at racing’s elite level and will be up against some of Australasia’s highest-profile jockeys in Glen Boss, Kerrin McEvoy, Chris Munce, Glyn Schofield and New Zealand whiz-kid James McDonald in what’s expected to be a tactical Group One Golden Rose (1400m).
“None of that is going to faze me,” Berry said.
“I know I’m riding up against five top-class jockeys that have ridden all over the world but I’m working my way to be there and that’s where I want to be.
“I need to prove that I’m up to their standard and I need to prove that I can ride against them and I believe I can. They’re the least of my worries.”
Berry says he’s never ridden a horse like the untapped Aeronautical before.
And while the Lionel Cohen-trained gelding is taking on some of the best three-year-olds in training on Saturday, Berry believes Aeronautical is the horse that can help him take another step in his career.
“I’ve found a couple of horses that I thought might get me there and might kick-start my career and they probably haven’t reached the marks that I thought. But this horse is top class,” Berry said.
“It is a top-class race on Saturday and I think all six horses in it are Group One horses. If we don’t win this Group One on Saturday I think this horse will definitely win me a Group One.
“But this is our main focus, I’m very confident and it wouldn’t surprise me if he beats them.”
Aeronautical burst onto the scene with two stunning wins at Randwick during July and August, with his most recent victory an explosive last-to-first performance in the Listed Rosebud Quality (1200m) on August 6.
The look on Berry’s face as he approached the winning post that day was a story in itself.
“When he let down, the feel he gave me was very exciting,” Berry recalled.
“When you haven’t won a Group One or when you haven’t been in the position to be on such a good horse and you get that feel, I was just overwhelmed.
“It’s a dream of mine to be part of such a talented horse and hopefully all the talking up I’ve done about him can pay off on Saturday.”
Berry has been working hard to establish himself in the senior riding ranks since finishing his apprenticeship in April and has been regularly partnering Aeronautical in work as the gelding prepares for Saturday’s assignment.
“He has come along nicely and his gallop last Tuesday on the course proper (at Rosehill) got me very excited,” Berry said.
“I galloped him again on Tuesday and every time I jump on him he seems to please me more and more and get me more excited.
“He’ll be there on Saturday a happy horse, a fit horse, and if he’s good enough he’ll be winning.”