Damien Ritchie could be a lot richer if things go to plan this weekend.
Ritchie owns a small share in Eduardo who is among the leading fancies for The Everest at Randwick on Saturday.
The Joe Pride trained sprinter has stamped himself as one of the nations best over the past 12 months.
Already a winner of almost $3 million in prizemoney, Eduardo can double that on the weekend with $6 million going to the winner of the world's richest race.
The eight-year-old gelding claimed the prized scalp of Nature Strip at his most recent run and is rated a $6.50-chance in the $15 million feature.
Last year's winner Classique Legend ($4.20) and Nature Strip ($4.40) are considered the hardest to beat.
Eduardo also ran in the feature last year when he finished near the tail of the field after jockey Rachel King set a break-neck tempo in the lead before puncturing late.
Ritchie still finds it hard to believe he has a share in a star galloper such as Eduardo.
"I guess that's the fascinating thing about racing, it doesn't matter how big or small your budget is, sometimes you get lucky and get to be involved in a horse as special as Eduardo," Ritchie said.
"It's an absolute dream come true and a bit surreal in a lot of ways.
"You just have to enjoy the ride because realistically it's a once in a lifetime experience."
Some of the gloss has been taken off for Ritchie with regional NSW residents still not allowed to travel to Sydney with COVID restrictions.
Ritchie was fortunate enough to attend the meeting last year.
"I was one of 10 lucky owners who got a ticket to the meeting last year," he said.
"We were in a room with all the other owners and there was no expense spared.
"I don't even think I had a beer and got straight on the champagne and there was unlimited seafood and I hate to think how much it would have cost.
"But it was all complimentary for the owners."
Ritchie was a lot more confident surrounding the chances of Eduardo compared to last year.
He said the booking of regular rider Nash Rawiller who has partnered Eduardo to six of his nine career wins can't be underestimated.
"There is a special bond between Eduardo and Nash who knows the horse backwards," he said.
"The horse has only been beaten once in his last five starts and that's when Nash wasn't aboard.
"Nash was suspended for the TJ Smith this year and the horse ran third and wasn't himself.
"He also got beat in last year's Everest when partnered by Rachel King and being ridden way too fast in the lead over the first 600m.
"We beat Nature Strip in the autumn and again last start who is the highest rated sprinter in the world.
"We have drawn gate seven but that doesn't matter because the horse has got such electrifying speed out of the gate.
"It's up to Nash now where he settles in the run."
Ritchie was unsure of his plans for the big race.
"I'm still shattered that I can't go to Randwick but that's the world we live in at the moment with COVID," he said.
"I'm thinking of either having some friends around home to watch it or maybe going to one of the local pubs.
"But I'm a lot more confident of the horse being in the finish this year as well.
"Last year he started at $26 but this year he is around the $7 mark but was being backed heavily on Wednesday.
"There is a bit of rain about but he handles all conditions, so you know what you are going to get."
Incredibly Eduardo didn't race until he was a four-year-old.
Trained by little known trainer Sarah Zschoke, the breeders couldn't afford to get the horse broken in as a juvenile.
Eduardo immediately showed above-average potential as a galloper winning his first two starts and being placed in group two company at Flemington in only his fourth race.
He captured the eye of former Border resident Lyndon Galvin who now resides in Melbourne and is an avid punter and horse owner.
Ritchie said Galvin and himself had been lifelong mates and was the mastermind behind the pair becoming involved in the horse.
"The short version of the story is the original breeder didn't have enough money to break the horse in," Ritchie said.
"So the horse literally sat in one of his paddocks as a pet until he was four.
"He showed a lot of promise as a four-year-old but didn't really do much as a five-year-old.
"Lyndon and I have got a bit of a sneaky betting account and we backed the horse when it won early in its career.
"Lyndon really liked the horse from that day and approached the trainer about buying the horse.
"She said 'make us an offer' and the rest is history."
Ritchie said Galvin offered shares in the horse to a heap of their close mates.
Former Culcairn footballers Dean Smith and David Badger have had plenty of sleepless nights since knocking back a chance to go in Eduardo.
"I jumped at the chance but most of the other boys said no," Ritchie said.
In a big weekend for local owners, there will also be plenty of interest in The Kosciuszko as well with Front Page set to contest the $1.3-million feature.
The Geoff Duryea-trained sprinter is part-owned by his two sons Marc and Paul alongside long-time stable supporters Jake Edmunds and Andrew Cronin.
Similar to Eduardo, Front Page is among the leading fancies and a $7-chance.
So what has Ritchie got planned to celebrate if he can claim a slice of the world's richest race?
"If he wins, anything is possible and I could end up anywhere," Ritchie said.
"If it happens to be an Eduardo and Front Page double I might have to track the other boys down and we could be in for one helluva party."
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