Eduardo eyes another win over old rival Nature Strip
Nature Strip and Eduardo are so fast “Father Time” hasn’t caught up with them yet.
The two super sprinters seem to have been around forever but both retain their sheer speed and are ready to renew an enduring rivalry in the Group 2 $1m The Shorts (1100m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The Shorts is their 11th clash with scoreboard reading Nature Strip 6 – Eduardo 4.
Joe Pride, trainer of evergreen nine-year-old Eduardo, is never daunted taking on Nature Strip, the world’s No.1 ranked sprinter.
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“Most of the races Eduardo has been in over the last two or three years has had Nature Strip in them,’’ Pride said.
“But when they talk about their clashes, you would think Nature Strip wins every time but it would probably surprise people it is so close.
“I’m always happy to see them clash because it means Eduardo is going well. I can’t wait, I’m looking forward to another great race.’’
Over the last two years, Nature Strip and Eduardo have not missed a placing in every race they contested, underlining their class and consistency.
They have met seven times during this period with Nature Strip and Eduardo winning three races each.
The only occasion they were both beaten was when Home Affairs edged out Nature Strip with Eduardo third in the Lightning Stakes earlier this year.
Some of their clashes have been truly epic including the 2021 Challenge Stakes when Eduardo just edged out Nature Strip in course record time for the Randwick 1000m of 55.2sec.
Eduardo has also beaten Nature Strip in The Shorts last year and the Challenge Stakes again last autumn.
But when they go to the Randwick 1200m for the TJ Smith Stakes and The Everest, Nature Strip has been superior.
In latest TAB fixed odds betting, Nature Strip is the $2.25 favourite with Eduardo at $4.
Pride doesn’t mind going in as underdog once again with the trainer delighted with how well his gelding has progressed since a typically ruthless win when resuming in the Concorde Stakes (1000m) two weeks ago.
“I could not be happier with Eduardo, he has maintained weight and is absolutely thriving,’’ Pride said.
“The barrier draw suits him and he will take some running down in The Shorts. He’s great and is going back to the races to try and repeat what he did first-up.’’
It’s rare in the modern era for an elite sprinter like Eduardo to still be winning at the top level as a nine-year-old. The same applies for eight-year-old Nature Strip.
Both sprinters are now officially “veterans” but they remain as brilliant as ever so what is the secret to their longevity?
“I think Chris (Waller, trainer of Nature Strip) and myself are not ones to push horses when they are young and I’m that sure that helps,’’ Pride said.
“Plus veterinary practices have improved and keeps horses to stay sound, racetracks and training tracks are in better conditions these, it’s a combination of a lot of factors.’’
Nature Strip has claimed the world’s number one sprinter ranking this season – Eduardo is second – after his wins in the TJ Smith Stakes and the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Waller said although Nature Strip isn’t getting any younger he is “holding his form”.
“He is certainly going as well as he has been for the last 12 months which shows you how long it can take for a horse to mature,’’ Waller said.
“If you are talking other codes of equestrian sports a horse would only be just starting to mature at this age. So, it is no surprise to me that is going as well as he ever has.’’
Waller is also looking forward to another chapter of the Nature Strip and Eduardo clash.
“Eduardo is a really good horse and he will bring us undone if we don’t get it right but if we do get it right, we usually have his measure,’’ Waller said.
“There is not much separating them so it should be another great race.’’
NATURE STRIP V EDUARDO
Oakleigh Plate – Eduardo 3rd, Nature Strip 10th
Moir Stakes – Nature Strip 1st, Eduardo 7th
The Everest – Nature Strip 7th, Eduardo 11th
Challenge Stakes – Eduardo 1st, Nature Strip 2nd
TJ Smith Stakes – Nature Strip 1st, Eduardo 3rd
The Shorts – Eduardo 1st, Nature Strip 2nd
The Everest – Nature Strip 1st, Eduardo 3rd
Lightning Stakes – Nature Strip 2nd, Eduardo 3rd
Challenge Stakes – Eduardo 1st, Nature Strip 3rd
TJ Smith Stakes – Nature Strip 1st, Eduardo 2nd
Nature Strip 6, Eduardo 4
Originally published as Eduardo thriving for latest chapter in rivalry against Nature Strip in The Shorts