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Eduardo has lifted himself off the canvas to defeat archrival Nature Strip in the Shorts as Gytrash finished on their heels in an epic preview to the $15 million The Everest.

Featuring a clash between six Everest contenders, the Shorts (1100m) was billed as a ‘mini Everest’ and it didn’t disappoint.

Old foes Nature Strip and Eduardo went stride for stride in the lead and it was Nature Strip who appeared to have more in the tank as they balanced for home.

But a gutsy Eduardo refused to give in, sticking to his task and calling on all his reserves to gradually shift the momentum over the multiple Group 1 winner and put his head in front.

Gytrash camped off the first two throughout and might have made the finish interesting had he been able to get clear galloping room between them.

Trainer Joe Pride reckons Nature Strip will be having bad dreams about Eduardo, who also fought back to beat him in the Challenge Stakes during the autumn.

“Nature Strip is going to have nightmares about this horse,” Pride said.

“Eduardo is seriously relentless. He is a ripper, a great sprinter.

“A lot of horses, when they lead and it gets taken away from them, they basically give it up.

“But this horse just hangs tough and that’s what Nature Strip hates about him.”

Pride admitted he had a few anxious moments when Eduardo and Nature Strip cleared out for a frontrunning battle, but he had faith in the resilience of his horse.

“I was a bit worried but that is my horse’s style and you must remember, with that you are taking other horses out of their comfort zone,” he said.

“Gytrash is a seasoned campaigner and he snuck in there, his run was really good, but something was entitled to finish off when you have gone that quick.

“This sets him up beautifully for The Everest.”

Nash Rawiller brought up his fourth win of the afternoon aboard Eduardo and landed a feature race double after taking out the Tea Rose Stakes aboard Four Moves Ahead.

He admitted he thought Nature Strip had him beaten.

“I never thought I was a chance until the 100 metres,” Rawiller said.

“It was a bloody good training effort and the horse was just magnificent over the last 100 metres, very strong.”

Eduardo ($5.50) scored by a long neck over Nature Strip ($2.10 fav) with Gytrash ($10) another length away.

Rothfire stuck on well in his first run for a year to finish fourth while fellow Everest slot holders Masked Crusader and Lost And Running finished fifth and last respectively.

Masked Crusader got too far back but made late ground while Lost And Running had a tough run.

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