Back to back second-place finishes in The Kosciuszko has Tommy Berry hungrier than ever to win the richest country-trained thoroughbred event in the world.
The 30-year-old jockey is confident his runner in this year's 1200-metre race, Regal Lodge's Art Cadeau, presents his strongest ever chance to win the $1.3 million event at Royal Randwick.
"It's one of the best races of the year due to its make-up with country trainers, so it would be amazing to win after consecutive runners-up finishes," Berry said.
"Those trainers get a chance for some big prize money, which is unreal.
"To be able to win for my good friend Terry which be very special, as I know it would be life-changing for their team.
"Us winning the country champs earlier in the year was obviously life-changing but this would be another feather in their cap.
"Art Cadeau doesn't know how to run a bad race, having never finished further back than second (from its 11 starts).
"From the three years I've raced in The Kosciuszko, Art Cadeau is definitely the best chance going into it."
Saturday's race will mark just the second time Berry and Art Cadeau will team up since powering to the country championship in April - after the duo lined up at Hawkesbury in September.
"That Hawkesbury meet was really good for him - he's in great order and pulled up well," Berry said.
"The team is happy with him, as he's had a couple of gallops since then including along the beach at Shoalhaven Heads and at the track on Monday.
"He's a horse that doesn't take long to get fit - he's not a gross sort of a horse, being quite lean.
"Overall, he's had a faultless preparation, so going into the race first up isn't a worry at all.
"I'm keen to see how he is presented come Saturday."
As well as ticking all the training boxes, Art Cadeau also travelled up to Sydney on Saturday, as the companion of his half brother Lord Desanimaux - who took out the TAB Highway race.
The point of the trip was to calm the five-year-old gelding's nerves, after his extended spell.
"Art Cadeau's day out at the races was really beneficial, as he's a pretty highly-strung kind of horse and notoriously gets nervous," he said.
Berry also quashed any talk that Art Cadeau wasn't suited to the distance.
"He's won before at 1000, 1100 and 1200 metres, albeit at a weaker grade," the Sydney jockey said.
"Apart from the top three in the market, they're class one and two horses, so it's not really that strong a race
"You can't say he won't be sharp enough - it's about keeping the speed in his legs for a 1200-metre race.
"Although 1400 is probably his preferred distance after a couple of runs, first up I'd say this race suits him perfectly.
"I'm very confident we've got the horse to perform best on the day."
Heading in the fourth edition of the race, Art Cadeau, whose drawn barrier three, will start as the third favourite behind Keith Dryden's Handle the Truth and Cody Morgan's Edit.
"While the race hasn't been as strong as it's been the past few years, with the unavailability of Brett Cavanough's It's Me (last year's winner) and Jenny Graham's Victorem taking some quality away from the field, it's still going to be a really exciting contest," he said.
As such, Berry, who has 1292 wins from his 9600 career starts, admits victory on Saturday would rank extremely high because of the people he's doing it for.
"As happy as the win would make me personally, it would be even more satisfying for the team I'm racing for," he said.
"Racing is all about the connections and friends you make along the way, so to do it with Terry and his family would be a memorable occasion for everyone.
"Sentimentally it would rank very high in terms of career wins."
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