By Ray Hickson
Joe Pride isn’t sure what it is about jockey Nash Rawiller that agrees with his star sprinter Eduardo but as they chase TAB Everest glory at Randwick on Saturday he’s just happy the pair are firm friends.
Rawiller has partnered Eduardo on eight occasions for a staggering record of six wins, a second and a fourth so Pride can only hope he keeps doing whatever works.
“It’s a bit like your relationships with people. You don’t overthink why you get on with someone, horses and jockeys are probably similar,’’ Pride said.
“But there’s something about the way he rates the horse.
“You could argue that it could have been a different jockey who rode him in those circumstances and there’d be a similar record. But I think it’s more than that with these two.
“Stats would tell you he’s extremely important. There’s no getting away from it. This time last year I was trying to convince myself he wasn’t important because he’d only ridden him a couple of times.
“The 12 months that have gone by have showed us he’s absolutely vital.
“Nash has a real confidence in the horse and that’s grown. He’s always liked him but now, you speak to him about the horse, I reckon he kind of half thinks he’s unbeatable.”
From the moment Eduardo crossed the line near the tail in last year’s Everest, Pride wanted nothing more than to be back at Randwick for a fresh shot and he’s got his wish and on his terms.
He wanted to play to the eight-year-old’s strengths and run him second-up in the $15 million TAB Everest (1200m) with a short gap between runs and it’s happened as though Pride wrote the script himself.
In the 12 months since Eduardo has added two Group 1 wins to his record, knocked over Nature Strip twice including first-up in The Shorts, and he’ll strike favourable track conditions.
“I’m really happy, I think he’s had the exact preparation I wanted to give him and that’s all you can ask,’’ Pride said.
“When we’re not sure about how the track is going to play so the middle barrier is great.
“I’m a bit like Nash, I’ve got a real confidence in this horse and his ability. Given the right preparation, which he’s had, I think he will run right up to his best.
“What I’ve seen, his best is good enough. We go in there quite confident in what’s a really good race, I’m not kidding myself, I’ve got respect for his opposition but I think my horse is going great and I wouldn’t swap him.”
Eduardo bridged the gap between The Shorts and The Everest with a cruisy barrier trial win over 735m at Randwick last Friday.
Pride said it was the perfect pipe opener and it gave Rawiller another chance to jump on his back.
“He had a four week break and it was the matter of taking a bit of the nervous energy out of him,’’ he said.
“Horses on race day are more settled when they’ve done recent work or a trial. I used a similar lead up to The Shorts, just a soft little trial. It served us well first-up and I think it will do the same for his second-up run.”
A year ago Eduardo was a $26 chance in the TAB Everest, this year the market says he’s a major player at $7 with TAB on Wednesday.
With Nature Strip drawn to his outside and a bit of speed drawn to the inside there’ll be plenty of intrigue surrounding how the early part of the Everest will play out – especially given what unfolded last year.
That’s something Pride wants Rawiller to avoid but aside from that the connections, and slot holders The Star & Arrowfield, are putting their fortunes in the capable hands of the rider.
“I don’t think there is an absolute perfect scenario for him,’’ Pride said.
“You can ignore what’s around him and ride him to be comfortable and in a nice rhythm and the rest will unfold.
“It’s not a matter of we need to be ahead of Nature Strip, or we need Nature Strip on our inside or outside.
“Last year we ran seriously reverse splits. Nash needs to get that right and run a slower first 600m than his last 600m and if he can do that he will be there in the end.”