Berry confident on Magic Millions

Nathan Berry has a big month ahead of him. It starts with the ride on Magic Millions favourite Unencumbered on Saturday, but February 2 holds more significance when he marries Whitney Schofield, the daughter of fellow hoop Glyn.

''The next month is probably the biggest of my life,'' Berry said.

''The Magic Millions is probably one of most important races I have ridden in, then I marry Whitney, which will be fantastic. It's just like the last couple of years of my life are all coming together at the same time and I couldn't be happier.''

Berry has lived in the shadow of twin brother Tom, who has established himself among the top jockeys in the country in the past 12 months. His rise to fame started three years ago on Magic Millions winner Karuta Queen.

It has been at times frustrating for Nathan, but he realises he has been his own worst enemy when it comes to the battle of the brothers on the track. He has found himself in hot water with stewards on a regular basis and too often sidelined through careless riding suspensions.

But he has ''kept 'em straight'' as he says in the past few months and found himself the partner for Unencumbered, who has won major lead-ups for Saturday's $2 million Gold Coast feature, including the Wyong Magic Millions and McLachlan Stakes at Doomben to earn the tag as favourite.

''I couldn't be any happier with how the past three months have gone,'' Nathan Berry said.

''I have always been suspended every second week and I haven't had one for a while and momentum is everything, and this shows it.

''I have ridden in the Golden Slipper and Doncaster and all those races, but I haven't probably gone into those races with as good a chance as I have got going into a $2 million race on Saturday.

''It is definitely my biggest test as a jockey so far, but I don't put myself under pressure or anything. I know I'll do my best to ride him well and just need luck in running.''

Unencumbered started his career on October 12 with a win for Berry, who is unbeaten in four rides on the son of 1999 Magic Millions winner Testa Rossa.

The only defeat came with Chad Lever in the saddle when he was grabbed by Bold Circle and Sheer Style in the shadows of the post at his second start.

''If you watch all of his runs, when he gets to the front he looks around and pulls up,'' Berry said.

''In that defeat, he sat outside the leader and pulled quite hard. I have always said to Bjorn [Baker, his trainer], I think he is better [when you ride him quietly] and you can see by his past three starts that he really enjoys that.''

The hustle and bustle of the Magic Millions should suit Unencumbered, who is certain to settle off the speed and come with one run.

Berry is confident that he is on the right horse.

''Every race I have ridden him in, I have drawn confidence from, so I know I'm going into the Magic Millions on the best horse,'' he said.

''You can't control the race, you just need to let them fall out, and that's what I will be doing.

''The horse is in great order, his form is great, so hopefully we can draw a barrier and get the right run in the race.''

Berry's growing stature will also see him link with trainer John O'Shea and sprinter Shelford in the Takeover Target Stakes at Gosford on Friday.

''It is very exciting to be on Shelford for John O'Shea, who is absolutely flying at this time of the year,'' Berry said. ''[Shelford] is coming off the back of a win that will do a lot for his confidence.

''He has been down in the weights like he will be on Friday for a long time and he could give me the perfect lead in to Saturday.''

The story Berry confident on Magic Millions first appeared on WA Today.

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