Eduardo leads Pride quartet at Randwick

Eduardo wins The Galaxy
Eduardo takes Group 1 honours in The Galaxy. (Steve Hart)

Warwick Farm-based trainer Joseph Pride will saddle up four winning chances at Royal Randwick on Saturday – including Eduardo, who will face off with Nature Strip once again in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m).

Joining Eduardo at Randwick from the Pride stable will be exciting two-year-old Shalatin as well as Kaapfever and Epsom Handicap winner Private Eye.

Private Eye will begin his autumn campaign in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m), where he will line up against the likes of Zaaki and Forbidden Love.

The son of Al Maher has trialled twice in preparation for his first-up run, which included a decent hit out on Monday morning at his home track.

“I was particularly happy with the way he got through the line,” Pride told Sky Racing.

“He’s going very well – 15 starts, eight wins, that horse – so as a four-year-old, we figure that the best is yet to come.

“That’s an exciting prospect given what he’s already been able to do.”

While Private Eye’s ceiling is hard to judge yet, Pride’s stable stalwart, Eduardo, has arguably reach his ceiling, although he continues to race extremely well at the highest level.

The eight-year-old finished third in The Everest back in October, before leading all of the way in the Classique Legend Stakes over 1300m a fortnight later in what was his last run for the spring.

Eduardo resumed in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) a fortnight ago at Flemington, where he was far from disgraced in running third to Home Affairs and Nature Strip.

On Saturday, Eduardo and Nature Strip will clash for the ninth time in their respective careers in what is set to be a terrific rematch of the Challenge Stakes, where Eduardo beat Nature Strip by one-tenth of a length 12 months ago.

“He definitely gets through the wet – it won’t be a problem for him,” Pride said.

“He loves the 1000m at Randwick – he’s the track record holder there – and in this race last year he beat Nature Strip.

“I’m sure it will be another good clash. Small field by the looks of it, but really excited of the prospect to get him back to the races here in Sydney.”

Eduardo will have one month on the sidelines after the Challenge, before going into the T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) in his bid to dethrone Nature Strip.

Earlier on in the program, Pride will be hoping that his two-year-old colt Shalatin can secure a spot in the Golden Slipper Stakes by winning the Todman Stakes.

The son of Shalaa has been good in his three career starts, with a career peak coming when second to Sejardan in the Golden Gift in November at Rosehill.

Shalatin resumed with a decent performance in the Silver Slipper, finishing the race off out wide to run seventh behind Best Of Bordeaux, and although the run may have been a head-scratcher for Pride, he insists he is “very happy with the horse”.

“Absolute wait and see, not really sure with that,” Pride said about whether the colt will handle the heavy conditions.

“The pedigree probably doesn’t give us that much of a clue – he’s a young standing Shalaa, but he’s got to go around, we need to have him ready potentially for the Slipper or the Sires’ (Produce Stakes), maybe both – but definitely want to run.

“Very happy with the horse. He’s in good order.”

The only other runner that Pride saddles up on Saturday is Kaapfever ($23) in the Listed Randwick City Stakes, but Pride believes he will be better off slightly further.

Eduardo is the $2.50 second favourite in the Challenge Stakes, while Nature Strip dominates that market ($1.65).

Punters are confident that Shalatin can bounce back, lining up in the Todman as a $5.50 chance, while Private Eye has firmed from $9 to $8 in the Canterbury Stakes.

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