By Ray Hickson
Joe Pride has long been known as a trainer that can improve a horse but even he’s been taken aback by the rapid rise of Eduardo to the point he’ll be Pride’s first TAB Everest runner.
To say the Warwick Farm trainer, no stranger to preparing a classy sprinter, is rapt is an understatement as since the race was born in 2017 he’s coveted a shot at it and is adamant Eduardo can give the 2000 or so micro owners through miRunners a big run for their money.
“I’ve had a lot of good sprinters. When they announced the race I thought that’s a race tailor made for my stable and it’s nice to be part of it,’’ Pride said.
“Ball Of Muscle isn’t a 1200m horse, this would have been a nice race for Terravista in his heyday but it came around after him.”
Eduardo came to Pride earlier this year with a reputation as a potential Group 1 sprinter but was a horse that had lost his way and the trainer said expectations weren’t high.
The seven-year-old made his stable debut with a win in the July Sprint at Rosehill then backed it up with a Group 2 Missile Stakes victory, ticking the 1200m box, in early August and that’s when Pride dared to dream about an Everest.
“It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind when we bought him,’’ he said.
“I would have been thinking get him up from Melbourne, give him a run or two and give him a break and see what we could do next preparation. We weren’t buying some high profile sprinter and shooting for the stars, this was a horse out of form.
“I’ve grown in confidence, everything I do with him he just gets better and better.”
A gallant second in the Group 2 Shorts (1100m) to Classique Legend confirmed Pride’s thought that he is now Everest material and bullishly said he wouldn’t run him before the race to ensure, if selected, he could perform to his best.
And now miRunners have called he said it’s all systems go and he’ll have a trial next week to top him off. Rachel King has the ride in the TAB Everest.
“The horse is just in tip top order, I could not be happier with him,’’ he said.
“I know you hear trainers say that all the time but honestly I’m just so happy with the horse and I can’t wait to get him to the Everest.
“We’re not making up the numbers, we are a serious chance in the race.”
MiRunners purchased a TAB Everest slot from GPI Racing and broke the slot up into 1000 pieces for punters, either as individuals or groups of 10, to get involved in for a fraction of the cost.
It’s similar to the Racing League concept miRunners is involved in. Chief executive Steve Brown said there are still some Everest micro slots available if any Eduardo fans want to jump on the bandwagon.
Brown said Eduardo had long been on the radar of the selection panel, which includes Lizzie Jelfs, Mark Waugh, Dan O’Sullivan and Tye Angland, and given they needed to replace the injured Rothfire he became an obvious choice.
“The panel had an eye on him for a while and the improvement that Joe has been able to bring to this horse has us a little bit excited,’’ he said.
“If he improves a little bit from the Shorts run he’s right in this race.
“If he had a better run, he was posted wide, then he may have won that race and we wouldn’t be even having this discussion.’’
Eduardo runs second in the Shorts at Randwick
Key to Eduardo getting the nod is his racing style and his versatility when it comes to track condition.
“Lizzie Jelfs has always been big on (racing style) in terms of our criteria,’’ he said.
“We didn’t want a horse where everything has to go right, like a backmarker, it makes your chances of being in the finish reduced.
“The criteria that Dan O’Sullivan has always had is you need a horse that can handle all conditions just in case it is wet and this horse can do that.”
Of course the star Queenslander Rothfire was the initial selection from the miRunners panel and Brown said he hopes the gelding makes a full recovery from injury sustained in the Golden Rose.
He said the reaction to the injury from all concerned with the miRunners slot has been an example of the goodness in the racing industry.
“There’s 2000 people in this team and there’s been an incredible amount of empathy and support towards Rothfire, the owners and Rob Heathcote and his stable,’’ he said.
“We’re not talking about a little bit. It just shows sometimes people are willing to put winning to the side for a moment. It said to me there’s a lot of really good people in the sport.”