Nature Strip has won the richest race on turf, the $15 million The Everest at Royal Randwick
The Chris Waller-trained galloper took out the $6.2 million first prize, winning the 1,200m sprint race from the fast-finishing Masked Crusader and Eduardo.
The race was seen by many as a head-to-head clash between Nature Strip and last year’s winner, Classique Legend.
Nature Strip and the Joe Pride-trained Eduardo jumped well early, with Masked Crusader left trailing at the back, with Classique Legend third last.
Jockey James McDonald kept Nature Strip ahead around the turn and pushed him clear in the straight.
The challenges came from Home Affairs and Eduardo, with Classique Legend coming down the outside.
But as Nature Strip looked home, Masked Crusader flashed home to fall just short. Eduardo came third with Lost and Running finishing well for fourth.
The victory was Waller’s second in the race after Yes Yes Yes in 2019.
“I’m getting a little emotional for a change,” Waller told Channel Seven after the race.
“It’s just a great race. It’s just captured the imagination of so many people, inside racing and out. What better way to get out of COVID than a race day.”
The Everest, first run in 2017, is organised differently to most races in Australia. Slotholders pay $600,000 a year for the right to nominate a horse for the race.
Nature Strip was representing Chris Waller Racing. Waller’s previous win was for Coolmore.
The prize money is $6.2 million for first, $2.3 million for second. $1.4 million for third, $1 million for fourth, $750,000 for fifth, $500,000 for sixth. Seventh to 12th collected $450,000 each.
A capacity crowd of 10,000 at Royal Randwick witnessed the big race. – ABC.