Michael Rodd’s first ride aboard Efficient since the pair claimed the 2007 Melbourne Cup almost had a fairytale ending.
The injury-plagued eight-year-old loomed up on the inside in Saturday’s Group One Sydney Cup (3200m) but just failed to hold off the charge of another problem-laden galloper in Niwot, who denied him by a long neck.
“That was incredible,” Rodd told connections as he dismounted.
“He really gave me everything. He tried his guts out.”
It was an extraordinary performance from Efficient who has raced sparingly since his Cup triumph due to leg injuries.
He went into the Sydney Cup (3200m) having not raced since his fifth in the Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 10.
The gelding missed a crucial leadup in the Chairman’s Quality two weeks ago when he was scratched on race day after veterinarians deemed him to be mildly lame.
Connections were upset and said Efficient had gait irregularities so racing officials gave the gelding every chance to prove his fitness for the Sydney Cup by vetting him a day out from the race and after he’d had the chance to warm up.
He was passed fit to run and proved it with his fighting second.
Nick Williams, racing manager for his father and Efficient’s owner Lloyd Williams, was delighted with the run.
“Fantastic. He’s a great horse and it’s good to have him back in a semblance of his former form,” he said.
“He is the soundest he’s ever been, despite what some overzealous officials might have said.”
While no plans have been set in concrete for Efficient, Williams said he could come back for another shot at the Melbourne Cup in the spring.
“No decisions will be made yet but I’m sure you’ll see him back at the track,” Williams said.
“You might see him on the first Tuesday in November.
“Perhaps he can win the Melbourne Cup in 2007 and 2012. That would be something.”