Nathan Berry dies: acute form of epilepsy claims top jockey

Jockey Nathan Berry. Picture: Harrison Saragossi
Jockey Nathan Berry. Picture: Harrison Saragossi

The racing community is in mourning following the death of jockey Nathan Berry, aged 23.

He died on Thursday after collapsing at trackwork in Singapore on March 18.

He suffered a series of seizures before he was placed in an induced coma last week. Doctors diagnosed Berry with Norse syndrome, an acute form of epilepsy.

Berry returned to Sydney from Singapore, where he was in the early stages of a four-month riding contract, aboard a specially-arranged flight on Thursday morning and was immediately admitted to a Sydney hospital.

He married his wife Whitney, daughter of fellow jockey Glyn Schofield, on February 2, a few weeks after the biggest win of his career on Unencumbered at the Gold Coast's Magic Millions Classic.

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys said the entire industry was 'distraught' at the news.

“The entire racing industry is extremely distraught with the news of Nathan’s passing,” V'landys said in a statement.

“Sadness is not a sufficient word to describe this tragedy. We are all very distressed and could not imagine the grief the family must be going through.

“This was a young man that had the world at his feet. He won the Magic Millions in January and rose to the top of the ranks so quickly that he was offered a contract to ride in Singapore.

“You would not meet a family more grounded and genuine than the Berry family. They are the most diligent and hard-working people I know. “Our sincere condolences go out to the Berry and Schofield families and Nathan’s wife Whitney.’’

Berry rode 351 wins in his career, the biggest being Unencumbered, which he was booked to ride in Saturday's Golden Slipper prior to falling ill.

He also tasted group 3 success last year with Malavio in the Tramway Stakes, Va Pensiero in the Run to the Rose and Unencumbered in the McLachlan Stakes.

Three-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Glen Boss took to Twitter soon after the news broke.

"I feel very numb with the passing of Nathan.  RIP.  Tommy your family and the Schofield's.  I'm so sorry for your loss," the 44-year-old wrote.

Also among those paying tribute was Australian Racing Board chairman John Messara.

"A great sense of loss has overtaken Australian racing with the passing of Nathan Berry," a statement read.

"It is an unspeakable sadness for his wife Whitney, twin brother Tommy, loving parents and family.  We know there are no words which can erase their pain, other than hope that they can draw comfort from knowing that so many others share in their grief.

"Nathan Berry was a respected and talented rider who had earned his success through dedication and hard work; he was an outstanding talent."


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