By Ray Hickson
Joe Pride labelled Eduardo a “streetfighter” and says he will spend the next month making sure he’s poised to again be Nature Strip’s worst nightmare after coming up trumps in a stirring duel at Randwick on Saturday.
The Group 2 $500,000 Bowermans Commercial Furniture Shorts (1100m) win was vindication the Warwick Farm trainer who has meticulously planned Eduardo’s second shot at the $15m TAB Everest to ensure he’s at his best come October 16.
After bouncing to the early lead from the outside alley, Eduardo allowed Nature Strip to kick up on the inside and head him but he showed he’s no one-trick pony and TAB Everest material by worrying the favourite out of it.
“He’s a fast horse that doesn’t have to lead,’’ Pride said.
“A lot of horses when they lead, it gets taken away from them and they basically give it up. But this horse just hangs tough and that’s what Nature Strip hates about him.
“Nature Strip is going to have nightmares about this horse. Eduardo is seriously relentless, he is a ripper, a great sprinter.
“As a trainer, you wear your hearts on your sleeve and when your horse performs at that level you are just proud of what they have done. He’s a real streetfighter.”
If there were any doubts over Eduardo’s TAB Everest prospects they’ve been quickly dispelled by his gutsy display in running Nature Strip down to win the crucial lead up. Not many achieve that feat.
At one stage jockey Nash Rawiller wasn’t sure whether the eight-year-old would pick up Chris Waller’s superstar but the fact he did told the in-form hoop he can repeat the dose in the grand final.
“I never thought I was a chance until the 100m,’’ Rawiller, who won four of the 10 races at Randwick, said.
“It was a great effort by Joe to get him here today to be able to have a run like that with four weeks in mind. It was a bloody good training effort and the horse was just magnificent over the last 100m, very strong.”
Eduardo ($5.50) edged clear late to win by a long neck over Nature Strip ($2.10) with an unlucky Gytrash ($10) a length away in third.
There were mixed fortunes for the other confirmed TAB Everest runners with Rothfire a game fourth, at his first run for almost a year, while Masked Crusader was never a factor running on from last into fifth and Lost And Running endured a tough run before finishing last.
“He was going away the last 100m,’’ Rawiller said.
“We’ve always felt 1200m was going to be good. The thing is he can relax now. With this shifty track I was pretty happy to make them run a bit early.”
Rawiller has always been confident that Eduardo has the class the win the TAB Everest and the Shorts success has only strengthened his resolve.
“I probably did the wrong thing jumping off him last year but he’s a different horse now. He’s the furnished product and the real deal,’’ he said.
It was Pride’s third win in the Shorts, following Ball Of Muscle (2018) and Terravista (2014), but by far his most important after being handed his Everest slot by The Star and Arrowfield just last weekend.
On the back of The Shorts result, Eduardo was the big firmer in TAB Everest betting, he moved into $7 third favourite behind Nature Strip ($4.50) and last year’s winner Classique Legend ($6).
The latter is yet to make his first appearance this spring, that could come in the Group 2 $500,000 Premiere Stakes (1200m) in two weeks though trainer Les Bridge has been toying with the idea of tackling the TAB Everest first-up.
“This sets (Eduardo) up beautifully for The Everest. He will barrier trial and he will be ready,” Pride said.