Nature Strip finally got the monkey off the back and claimed The Everest at his third attempt at Randwick on Saturday.

After cruising along out in front, Nature Strip looked pretty much home at the 50m only for backmarker Masked Crusader to jump out of the ground late.

But Waller’s star sprinter dug deep and was able to stave off the challenge and claim the $15 million sprint.

Fellow on-speed horse Eduardo, who was the subject of late support for trainer Joe Pride, was never away from the winner but he just couldn’t quite reel Nature Strip in and had to settle for third ahead of the John O’Shea-trained Lost And Running.

The Hawkes-trained Masked Crusader didn’t help himself by bombing the start again but he produced a stunning final 200m to only miss by a narrow margin.

Waller said post-race that the plan was to send Nature Strip south for a trip to Flemington and a crack at the Darley Classic in Cup week.

Nature Strip’s overdue Everest success was his 18th win from 33 career starts.

He finished fourth in the 2019 Everest, then seventh last year before finally securing the first-prize cheque of $6.2 million.

According to Channel 7, The Everest win was the 250th winner for the McDonald/Waller partnership.

There was no fairytale title defence on resumption for Classique Legend, with the grey game in finishing fifth, just shy of Lost And Running.

The Everest finishing order:
1st – Nature Strip ($3.70F)
2nd – Masked Crusader ($12) – 0.2L
3rd – Eduardo ($4.20) – 0.43L
4th – Lost And Running ($41) – 2.03L
5th – Classique Legend ($5.50) – 2.04L
6th – Trekking ($31) – 2.21L
7th – Gytrash ($8) – 4.67L
8th – Libertini ($31) – 4.97L
9th – Home Affairs ($12) – 5.01L
10th – The Inferno ($21) – 6.27L
11th – Embracer ($101) – 8.36L
Last – Wild Ruler ($51) – 9.19L

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