There were heroes and heroines aplenty at the George Main Stakes meeting at Randwick on Saturday with sublime performances from Nash Rawiller, Eduardo and currently the greatest heroine of all, Verry Elleegant (NZ).
Chris Waller’s mare Verry Elleegant won the feature Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) on class. The track had commenced the day as a Soft 5 and then a front of rain swept over the Sydney basin and there was a downgrade to a Soft 6, but as so often happens with heavy rain during a meeting, the track became shifty and it was difficult to accelerate off.
That excludes Verry Elleegant who overcame a serious challenge from Riodini (NZ) and Rachel King who went out at a strong consistent pace to lead and entering the main straight the margin and catching ability ratio was tilted in the leaders favour.
Riodini tired, as the Proisir five-year-old was entitled to, but Verry Elleegant still had a lot of work to do, which as a serious Group 1 performer she did. Not only that, the margin as 3/4L. From the seemingly very difficult to another sweeping win. Both Riodini and Think It Over, third by a half-head, were gallant in defeat and contributed mightily to the spectacle.
Riodini has earned $372,050 from four black type placings since last spring, including third in the 2020 Group 1 Epsom Handicap and he will be back for another crack at the 2021 renewal on October 3rd. King will ride and the rest will have to be mighty fit to run down the Waterhouse and Bott trained gelding.
Eduardo (NZ) and Nash Rawiller with Nature Strip and James McDonald inside, picture Sportpix.com.au
Nash Rawiller was up on Think It Over and while he did not win this time he certainly did on four others, Kiss The Bride (NZ), High Supremacy (NZ), Four Moves Ahead and Eduardo. All of them benefited from Rawiller vigorous riding, mainly hands and heels, and vitally, exactly the right time that Rawiller applies the message to step up.
His tactical thinking won the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) on Eduardo. He and Joe Pride’s sprinter after beginning well from barrier eight waited for Nature Strip and James McDonald to come through inside from barrier four to lead toward the turn. As they went through the turn Rawiller parked Eduardo immediately outside Nature Strip, not a half-length off, a neck off, right outside, eye ball to eye.
The rumble was on and Rawiller made sure Nature Strip knew it. When Nature Strip made his seasonal debut in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes over 1100m at the same track on the 4th, he was out in front as he liked having a speedy spin around before retiring to the stable for a restorative water walk and an evening supper. No doubt he had the same on Saturday, but this time he did not have a Good 4 to sprint off, he had an annoying Eduardo outside who has an amazing capacity to be headed and then come again.
Rawiller knew Eduardo’s strength in a tight fight and together they applied it. They got up and passed Nature Strip for a long neck win. Gripping sprinting and just what was required to send the shivers down the spine of fellow contestants and punters alike for the invitation TAB Everest (1200m) on October 16th.
Nature Strip is still the $4.50 favourite with TAB with Classique Legend $6.00 and Eduardo sharing $7.00 with Masked Crusader who was fifth on Saturday. Should similar conditions be presented on the 16th Eduardo’s five wins from six starts on Soft and two wins from three starts on Heavy might make those odds well worthwhile.
Next week the Group 1 is for the three-year-old’s in the Golden Rose (1400m). Then we are just a week away from the TAB Epsom Handicap meeting, a meeting which used to be the pinnacle of Sydney’s spring, but now just seems part of an endless parade.