Nisbet family grieving after Nathan Berry's death

Canberra horse trainer John Nisbet was in the congregation beaming with pride when Nathan Berry married his sweetheart Whitney Schofield, daughter of Sydney jockey Glyn.

Just two months after the racing world joined together in celebration, it has been replaced by grief after star hoop Nathan lost his battle with Norse syndrome on Thursday.

John’s daughter Sharnee is the partner of Nathan’s twin brother Tommy, also an elite jockey, while another daughter Kayla is a rising rider in the David Hayes stable.

“We were at the wedding two months ago, full of racing people and all the top names were there, it was a lovely day,’’ John said on Friday.

“It’s why it’s hurting everyone so much, we’re getting to an age where you look on the [Berry] boys as your own kids.’’

John’s sole comfort is Nathan’s memory will live on through Tommy’s feats in the saddle.  


Despite his heavy heart, Tommy will pay tribute to his best friend taken too soon when he rides Valentia in Saturday’s $3.5 million Golden Slipper at Rosehill.

“There are no positives, but the one thing is he’ll never be forgotten as long as Tommy’s riding at least,’’ John said.

“It would be nice if he wins but the fact he’s riding [Saturday] is a tribute in itself, he’s a tougher kid than me.

“I think for Tommy it’s a good thing for him to ride, he’d be hurting more than any of us.

“I can’t make any sense of it, it’s been a terrible 10 days.’’

Kayla has taken time off racing to deal with the 23-year-old’s loss and was able to say goodbye to him in his final hours.

He died on Thursday in Sydney after collapsing at track work in Singapore on March 18, where he was on a four-month riding contract.

The Berry boys, Tommy in particular, were instrumental in nurturing Kayla early in her career, offering her advice after rides.

Kayla stayed with the Berry brothers for five weeks in Sydney in the early days of her riding career.

The boys look alike, but John said their admirable qualities as people are just as similar.

“We’ve known Nathan since he was 15 and he and Tommy are just lovely kids,’’ John said.

“They’d shake your hand and look you in the eye, and they’d do that to everyone.

“My wife and Kayla are staying with Tommy and Sharnee at the moment supporting them.

“Kayla’s a tough kid but she’s also a very emotional kid.

“David Hayes is a gentleman, he said she can have as much time off as she wants, and I don’t know when she’ll go back.

“After the funeral I guess she’s like the rest of us, she has to try and be normal.’’

John said the fact Nathan had shown some promising signs of recovery last week before losing his fight for life only added to the grief.

“When he got sick we just thought he’s a young bloke, he’ll be right, but as time went on it got worse and worse,’’ he said.

“We had three days last week where we got a bit positive, then it all went downhill again.

“It broke my heart they were in a strange country, too, that was sad.

“The support he got from the whole country the time he was sick was just unbelievable.

“They’re just an outstanding pair of boys.’’