NASH RAWILLER RATES EDDIE MORE THAN OK FOR CONCORDE RETURN
By Ray Hickson
If jockey Nash Rawiller had any doubts about sprint warhorse Eduardo’s desire to race they were dispelled with one barrier trial.
So he’s more than happy to suggest the 10-year-old is capable of defending his title in the Group 3 $1 million Southern Cross Group Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on Saturday and fending off his old rival Nature Strip.
It will be the 13th time the two warriors have met and while it’s 8-4 to Nature Strip, over the Randwick 1000m it’s 2-0 to the Joe Pride-trained Eduardo.
Rawiller said he wanted to see for himself whether the gelding felt near his best and got the answer he wanted in under 49 seconds in the shape of a trademark 807m trial win a couple of weeks ago.
“Joe and I had a discussion last prep about the horse going forward after his last run,’’ Rawiller said.
“We mentioned about retirement for the horse. Joe rang me before this prep and said he’s going to give him another try and I asked how he was going and Joe said ‘I’m rapt with him’.
“When he told me he’s come back as good as ever I wanted to ride him in his first trial and see how he felt. And I was more than happy.”
Eduardo started his last campaign with a narrow defeat, his first over the Randwick 1000m, behind Passive Aggressive in the Challenge Stakes.
He didn’t fire in two subsequent Group 1 starts, the Galaxy and Kingsford-Smith Cup, and that’s what cast some doubt about his future at the top level.
But from the moment he laid eyes on Eduardo before that trial Rawiller could see he is a happy horse.
“He felt fantastic. I was really taken by his coat and the way he looked,’’ he said.
“Before I got on his back he caught my eye, he had a real glow about him and that shone out in his trial.
“He showed a lot of zest for being back at the trials and the feel he gave me was a bit like his old self.
“I think everyone will be happy with what they see in the mounting yard. As soon as you get on his back he knows what it’s about and on race day he gets around like he’s bigger than Nature Strip.”
Rawiller marvels at the battles the two star sprinters have had and while Eduardo’s star hasn’t risen quite as far as Nature Strip he sits on the cusp of $8 million in prizemoney.
The duo have won the past two editions of the Concorde but they’ll meet in the race for the first time.
If Eduardo is right, and the same horse we know and love, then Rawiller expects to be fighting out the finish.
“It’s been an amazing rivalry between them,’’ he said.
“He’s never let us down first-up. He just got pipped on the line there last prep and to be fair to the horse I don’t think he had a chance to see the winner coming at him.
“They were wide apart and he didn’t get a chance to respond. He’s pretty hard to beat over 1000m at Randwick.”
Meanwhile, Kerry Parker’s stable star Think It Over proved to everyone he’s come back from his injury enforced absence in great order with a plucky sixth first-up in the Winx Stakes (1400m) two weeks ago.
And had it not been for some tightening at a couple of vital stages in the straight Rawiller is adamant he’d have been right amongst it on the line.
As it stands he was beaten 1-1/2 lengths by Fangirl and he goes into the Group 2 $300,000 Daily Press Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) with the benefit of that run and an ideal draw.
“I topped the rise feeling the winner, he probably peaked on his run a little bit past the 100m and was inconvenienced when he was wanting to fight on,’’ he said.
“That shows how good he’s gone. I thought the fight he showed after all that happening was very good, it shows he’s back on track and wants to be a racehorse.”
The eight-year-old won the Chelmsford second-up in 2021 having also finished a close up sixth in the Winx Stakes. He was $2.60 favourite with TAB on Wednesday.