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There was a major upset in the 2021 Challenge Stakes results on Randwick Guineas Day with the Joe Pride-trained seven-year-old Eduardo lunging late to defeat the even money favourite Nature Strip ahead of the Group 1 The Galaxy.
Host gelding Eduardo hadn’t celebrated his first win since the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill in August last year – won on a Heavy (9) – handling a firm Good (4) track at Royal Randwick to atone for that second last (11th) in the $15 million The Everest.
He was first-up off two strong trials and proved too good, jockey Nash Rawiller riding him to perfection in patiently-timed performance by horse and hoop.
It was Chris Waller’s Australian Horse of the Year and last start Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning stakes champ at Flemington, Nature Strip, dominating the Challenge Stakes markets getting out to $2 by jump time.
Nature Strip and jockey James McDonald showed great muster to roll around the outside and take up the lead, which he held around the turn onto the straight.
Eduardo however was winding-up beautifully late, coming up the inside to match the top elect stride for stride in a great battle to the winning post.
The eventual Challenge Stakes winner made a final dive at Nature Strip forcing a thrilling photo-finish that showed Eduardo had got there right on the line in a new record time.
Incredibly the underrated champion took a half second off the 1000m course record previously held by dual The Everest champion Redzel, Eduardo saluting in a slick 55.2 seconds.
The Challenge Stakes trifecta was rounded out by Will Clarken’s Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes winning mare Bella Vella in a nice return to form.
Pride was quick to name the Group 1 $700,000 The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on Golden Slipper Day, March 20, as the next-up option for Eduardo.
“When he got headed, I said he’ll fight…amazing performance they’ve carved up the track record…He deserves all the accolades this horse absolute pumped, amazing,” Pride told the media post-win.
“He’s bene a different horse to work with…just getting this horse to switch off.
“He’s beaten on his day probably the best horse in Australia over a sprint trip
“He’s seven years old, but the amount of racing he’s done makes him more of a four or five-year-old.
“He’s going to be hard to beat in The Galaxy.”
Eduardo has firmed in from $12 to $5 in the updated 2021 The Galaxy odds online at Ladbrokes.com.au to complete the double.
2021 Challenge Stakes Results
|1||2||EDUARDO||Joseph Pride||Nash Rawiller||6||58.5kg||$8.50|
|2||1||NATURE STRIP||Chris Waller||James McDonald||0.1L||8||58.5kg||$1.95F|
|3||7||BELLA VELLA||Will Clarken||Jason Collett||3.9L||1||56.5kg||$26|
|4||4||SPLINTEX||Mark Newnham||Joshua Parr||5.6L||4||58.5kg||$11|
|5||6||SPACEBOY||Gary Portelli||Ms Kathy O’Hara||5.8L||2||58.5kg||$51|
|6||8||WRITTEN BEAUTY||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Tommy Berry||6.2L||3||54kg||$3.10|
|7||5||THE ODYSSEY||Kelly Schweida||Ms Stephanie Thornton||11.2L||7||58.5kg||$41|
|8||3||JUNGLE EDGE||Mick Bell||Ms Jade Darose||12.4L||5||58.5kg||$101|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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