Resuming Joe Pride sprinter Eduardo blew next month's Everest wide open on Saturday, turning over raging favourite Nature Strip for a gutsy win in the Group 2 Shorts (1100m) at Randwick.
Nash Rawiller lifted the speedster past Nature Strip in the dying stages to notch his fourth win on the program, while South Australian Gytrash put down his own Everest marker with a close-up third.
Chris Waller's Nature Strip remains favourite for the $15 million Sydney spring feature next month, but Eduardo's effort looks to have turned the race on its head.
"I never thought I was a chance until the 100m," Rawiller said.
"It was a great effort by Joe to get him here today to be able to have a run like that with four weeks in mind. It was a bloody good training effort and the horse was just magnificent over the last 100m, very strong.
"He's a different horse now. He's the furnished product and the real deal.
"We've always felt 1200m was going to be good. The thing is he can relax now. With this shifty track I was pretty happy to make them run a bit early."
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Eduardo and Nature Strip fought a grueling two-horse war throughout, with the latter edging in front at the top of the straight before Rawiller had the last say.
Earlier on at Randwick, Waller star Verry Elleegant notched a ninth Group 1 win, finishing best on the fence to outlast Riodini and Think It Over in the George Main Stakes (1600m).
Waller is yet to decide whether the mare will have one run in Sydney, or clash with Incentivise in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) as a final run before next month's Cox Plate.
"She is a good horse, simple as that," Waller said.
"She is a difficult horse to train and the team as I've mentioned before today just do a wonderful job with her and all the other horses.
"I'm here getting the accolades for it on race day but it is an honour to train a horse like this. If she doesn't win G1s she runs second in them over all distances on all track conditions. That is a rare commodity."
Meanwhile at Caulfield, Sierra Sue upstaged a crack field to claim the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.