How the slowest horse at trackwork is gunning for The Everest

He might be lightning fast on race days, but Everest hope Private Eye could not go any slower if he tried at trackwork.

True to form, the galloper was at his typical dawdling best on Tuesday morning as he went through his paces ahead of Saturday’s $15-million sprint at Randwick.

Trainer Joe Pride sat in the Warwick Farm stands and clocked his horse running the final 600m in a sluggish 38.4 seconds.

“What did I tell you?” Pride said to the Herald. “He sure can be lazy in the mornings. He always has been.

“I can’t force him to gallop fast a couple of times a week and make him do something he doesn’t want to do, then expect him to enjoy it.

“Like people, some enjoy a high-intensity workout, others like to plod along. It’s all about game day with him. I know he can go quick when it counts.”

Top trainer Joe Pride in July.Credit:Getty Images

To put Private Eye’s final piece of trackwork into perspective, he was nearly six seconds slower than the time he ran for the final 600m in his first-up win at Flemington.

The general rule in racing is that one second is the equivalent of six lengths, which means Private Eye’s morning “workout” was roughly 36 lengths slower than what he last produced on a race day.

Pride recalls another of his topliners, Red Oog, showing a similar disdain for any work before sunrise. One of the most embarrassing moments in his career was the day Red Oog galloped at a Breakfast With The Stars event at Eagle Farm before a Stradbroke only to keep the handbrake firmly up. Some punters thought Pride and his Sydney sprinter were having a lend.

Private Eye will be one of two runners Pride saddles up in The Everest.

Nine-year-old Eduardo is 15 kilograms heavier than last year and the better chance in the eyes of bookies. He is the only horse to defeat short-priced favourite Nature Strip.

Unlike Private Eye, he loves trackwork and often has to be restrained. Such is his zest for racing that he is every chance of knocking on the door for a start in next year’s Everest at the age of 10.

As for the younger upstart stablemate, Private Eye, Pride knows he deserves his spot in the cashed-up Randwick feature this weekend.

Pride uses the word “arrogant” when asked to describe Private Eye. The reasons he gives are fascinating.

Private Eye strides away to win the Gilgai Stakes at Flemington.Credit:Getty

“Don’t underestimate how intelligent horses are,” Pride said. “They know if they are better than the horses around them. The good ones do. And with that comes an arrogance or expectation they should be treated differently.

“He’s quite arrogant, and everything has to be on his terms. If you watch him walk around, he’s always dragging himself behind a person, but when he wants to, he’ll take off on you.

“When you put a brush on him, he wants to lash or kick at you. I don’t mind it. There are a few good athletes around the world who are like that.”

Private Eye was always going to target Saturday’s Sydney Stakes if he was unable to land a slot in The Everest. The big-money race was given some thought after his second in the Stradbroke in the winter.

Star sprinter Eduardo.Credit:Getty Images

A third-up run in the Nature Strip Stakes is a possibility before the Champions Mile at Flemington on the last day of the Melbourne Cup carnival.

“He belongs in Saturday’s race and is good enough,” Pride said. “He got home the other day in 32.59 seconds. He has an amazing turn of foot -he has serious acceleration, the kind of acceleration only group 1 horses possess.”

A Randwick bog is the only concern for Pride and Private Eye.

As for evergreen Eduardo, Pride said it was the best he had had him.

A proud South Sydney supporter, Pride said horses were unlike NRL players, who stopped improving after a certain age.

“People can get obsessed with the age of horses, but age doesn’t hold them back,” Pride said. “Unlike footy players, horses don’t get knocked around as much. He might be nine, but he’s only had 29 starts, so he still has low mileage, has great knees and joints, and not an arthritic bone in his body.”

Eduardo seemed to be stretching out more freely than his trainer who continues to make a steady, but slow, recovery from knee surgery 10 weeks ago. Pride might move slowly in the mornings. But not as slowly as Private Eye.

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