‘Flat-track bully’: Pride certain Eduardo has beating of Nature Strip Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content

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By Chris Roots

Eduardo trainer Joe Pride knows who his horse has to beat in Saturday’s TJ Smith Stakes - a galloper he has labelled the David Warner of racing.

Having gone back over the video of Eduardo’s rival Nature Strip, Pride is confident the key to victory in Saturday’s group 1 sprint is making sure he doesn’t let the favourite dictate the terms of the race.

Eduardo charges away with the July Sprint on a slow track at Rosehill.

Eduardo charges away with the July Sprint on a slow track at Rosehill.Credit:Getty

“I sat down and went through all of Nature Strip’s Randwick runs the other day - he reminds me a bit of Dave Warner, the way he bats,” Pride said.

“What do they call Dave, a flat-track bully. If you let him get his own way, he invariably wins. To me, there is only one way Nature Strip can win. I think Eduardo is a bit more versatile than him and I think he is just coming good.”

Eduardo turned over Nature Strip in an epic edition of the Challenge Stakes over 1000 metres last month, but Pride knows that was only the first round and Saturday is the grand final.

In that race, Eduardo engaged Nature Strip as soon as the barriers rose. After a head-to-head battle, Nature Strip pulled clear in the straight but but Eduardo delivered a final surge to win the race and break the Randwick track record.

At his next start, Eduardo demolished the field over 1100m in The Galaxy, convincing Pride his sprinter could be the best in the country.

“He has come through that [run in the Galaxy] very well and I know a lot of people doubted he would be able to do that second-up after such a peak run first-up,” Pride said. “He just seems to be going to a new level every time I put a bridle on him.”

But Pride is leaving nothing to chance and has studied his rival, wanting to again exploit what he thinks is a weakness. He likes being drawn to his outside because that will enable him to ramp up the pressure in the early stages.

“Nature Strip has a bit of a problem there because Eduardo has better gate speed than him and off the Challenge win it looks like he has a better finishing speed than him,” Pride said.

But just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, or one century in Warner’s case, a victory over the short course of 1000m doesn’t make a horse the best sprinter in the land.

Pride is planning to take that title on a softened Randwick on Saturday, but Eduardo will this time have a different partner in the saddle in Brenton Avdulla as Nash Rawiller is suspended.

“We are getting the right weather and I’m looking forward to it,” Pride said after the Randwick track was downgraded to heavy-9 rating following 24 millilitres of rain overnight.

“Everything is going right with him and I’m very happy with my horse. I wanted someone like Nash to replace him and I think Brenton is the man. He is aggressive and will suit Eduardo.”

Pride is not scared of talking up his horse, but punters are leaning towards the defending champion Nature Strip, which is the $3.60 Sportsbet favourite, with solid support for Bivouac, which is $6 to $4.20 since the field was declared.

“It is all part of the enjoyment for me. If you get it wrong, you get it wrong,” Pride said. “It’s a really good version of this race and I think it is the race of the day on Saturday.

“People are very familiar with these horses and they all have a favourite out of them. It’s the kind of racing I really enjoy and love being part of.”

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