By Mark Brassel
Three jockeys are vying for honours in the prestigious Nathan Berry Medal on Day 1 of The Championships at Royal Randwick.
Mark Zahra burst into contention when he scored a heart-stopping nose win aboard Levendi in the $2 million Group 1 Harrolds Australian Derby (2400m).
Zahra snatched the three points from Tye Angland (Ace High) after an epic battle down the stretch.
A race earlier Damian Lane locked in three points when roughie El Dorado Dreaming ($81) zoomed down the outside to knock out the favourite Oohood (Zac Purton, $3.10) in the Inglis Sires' (1400m).
And in race 4, joint leader Ben Looker was superb in guiding the well-fancied Victorem ($6 into $4.60) home in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m).
The 27-year-old rated it his biggest career win with the Port Macquarie galloper cruising home two lengths in advance of Don't Give a Damn (Kerrin McEvoy, $3.80 favourite) and O' So Hazy (Brooke Sweeney, $41).
The Nathan Berry Medal is awarded to the most successful jockey over the 12 races of The Championships and pays tribute to the former top jockey who passed away in early April 2014.
The Nathan Berry Medal is unique as it features his initials ‘NJB’ in the same font Nathan carried on his racing jodhpurs, and is adorned by a light blue & dark blue ribbon – mirroring the colours he carried on Unencumbered.
2018 NATHAN BERRY MEDAL POINTSCORE
2017 - HUGH BOWMAN
2016 - HUGH BOWMAN
2015 - HUGH BOWMAN
2014 - TOMMY BERRY/JAMES McDONALD (tied)
Latest TAB Market
$1.70 Kerrin McEVOY, $4.60 Brenton AVDULLA, $8 Corey BROWN, $9 Blake SHINN, $11 Mark ZAHRA, $15 Hugh BOWMAN, $26 Zac PURTON & Craig WILLIAMS