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Giga Kick upsets Nature Strip to win turf’s biggest prize

7. Giga Kick upsets Nature Strip to win turf's biggest prize
Giga Kick (right), ridden by jockey Craig Williams, wins the Everest 2022 horse race at the Royal Randwick race course in Sydney on October 15, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

SYDNEY, Australia — Outsider Giga Kick, ridden by veteran Craig Williams, stunned star sprinter and red-hot favorite Nature Strip to win the world’s richest turf race, The Everest, in Sydney on Saturday.اضافة اعلان

The Clayton Douglas-trained gelding surged past Chris Waller’s wonder horse in the final 100 meters at Royal Randwick to collect a whopping $6.2 million Australian dollars ($4.6 million) for barely a one-minute dash.

Private Eye, winner of the Epsom Handicap last year and with Brenton Avdulla in the saddle, came second.

Nature Strip was initially called third but Mazu took the placing in a photo finish, leaving the shortest priced favorite in the race’s history fourth with Jacquinot fifth.

In a shock hours before the race, second favorite Lost And Running — who finished fourth last year — was scratched with a fetlock injury.

For Giga Kick’s 27-year-old trainer Clayton Douglas, it was a dream come true.

“I had a lot of confidence in this fella, it’s a really good horse, a superstar,” he said of the unbeaten three-year-old. “He’s such a professional, he’s electric, the new kid on the block.”

Raced over 1,200m, it brought together 12 of the world’s best sprinters under weight-for-age conditions.

Despite being drawn in an outside barrier, Nature Strip was an overwhelming favorite.

After winning in 2021, he went to Britain this year and proved to be one of the world’s best sprinters, romping to victory in the Group One King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

Eduardo — who came in third last year — flew out of the blocks at Royal Randwick and led at the half-way mark from Nature Strip, who then swept into the lead and looked destined to win again as they entered the final straight.

But Giga Kick had other ideas, and an electric surge of pace saw him storm to victory.

“I believed in this horse,” said jockey Williams. “I’m just so lucky to be a part of the ride. It’s such a thrill.”

Crowds last year were capped at 10,000 — about a fifth of full capacity — due to COVID-19 in 2021, but it was business-as-usual on Saturday with the venue packed.

Innovative concept

While the Everest— the showcase event of the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival — is the richest turf race in the world, with a total of $15 million dollars at stake, it lags behind the Saudi Cup dirt race in the money stakes.

But it is still a massive payday, with the established Melbourne Cup, Kentucky Derby, and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe paling in comparison.

Since its inception, it has progressively boosted prize money from its initial $10 million dollars, with even the horse that came last, Ingratiating, walking away with $450,000 dollars.

Under an innovative concept, buyers purchase an $600,000 dollars slot in the race and commit for three years, then do a deal with owners and jockeys to secure the top horses.

The idea was modelled on the Pegasus World Cup in the US run over 1,800m.

But it has been controversial, with Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club scheduling it in Sydney to clash with the Caulfield Cup in Melbourne, one of Australia’s oldest and most-esteemed events.

The handicap over 2,400m was won on Saturday by another Chris Waller-trained horse, Durston, ridden by Michael Dee.

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