People were calling it a ‘mini Everest’ as six confirmed Everest starters battled it out in The Shorts (1100m) in a mouth-watering battle which went the way of Eduardo.
After rain aplenty arrived at Randwick, the money came for Nature Strip, with the champion sprinter firming into $2.00 prior to the jump, while Eduardo was the only other runner punters wanted any part in.
Nature Strip and Eduardo cleared out by five lengths over the 1100m and went toe-to-toe for the entire race, with only a neck separating the duo.
James McDonald and Nature Strip looked to have enough in the locker to kick clear of Eduardo in the straight, but Joseph Pride’s eight-year-old had the fight to get back in front when it counted.
After jumping quickly from barrier nine, Nash Rawiller said he “was happy to make them run early” as he felt his mount had the ability to run out a strong 1100m and be the beneficiary at the end.
Rawiller admits jumping off Eduardo in last year’s The Everest was a mistake, but he insists that the horse can run a big race this time around.
“I’ve sort of felt from before he beat Nature Strip here last time that he could be right in the race,” Rawiller told Sky Racing.
“I probably did the wrong thing jumping off him last year.
“He’s a different horse now, he’s the furnished product and he’s the real deal.”
While all eyes were on the first two past the post, South Australian sprinter Gytrash was the unlucky runner finishing third after finding no galloping room between Nature Strip and Eduardo inside the final furlong.
Queensland sprinter Rothfire made his long awaited return, running home strongly into fourth in what will be a good lead-up run into next month’s $15M sprint.
Nature Strip stayed solid in the market for The Everest at $4.50 favourite, while Eduardo almost halved his quote, firming to $7, Gystrash was wound in from $15 to $8 and Rothfire moved from $11 into $8 with online bookmakers as well.
Disappointing runs from Masked Crusader and Lost And Running saw that duo drift in The Everest, with Masked Crusader going from $5 to $8 and John O’Shea’s gelding doubling his quote from $8 to $15.
The Everest will be run at Royal Randwick on October 16.