All clear for Nature Strip in trial hitout
Nature Strip has come through his latest barrier trial without incident and will now take on Classique Legend in the Premiere Stakes at Randwick.
The multiple Group One winner’s last visit to the trials ended in high drama when he dislodged James McDonald as the gates opened and competed riderless.
Fortunately, he came through it unscathed, although stewards ordered he trial again before he could race.
Nature Strip was given a quiet hitout in the opening 900m heat on Monday.
He was restrained throughout by McDonald and cruised around Rosehill with the jockey firmly in the saddle, finishing sixth to Tulloch Lodge galloper Kaakit Akit.
The drama-free trial has confirmed Nature Strip’s place in the Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday, his final lead-up run to The Everest on October 17.
“It’s far from ideal but what is ideal? You’ve got to work them somewhere,” trainer Chris Waller said.
“If he wasn’t trialling he would have been having a pretty solid gallop because he’s done well between his first run and this.”
Fellow Everest slot holder Gytrash stepped out in a 1030m heat on Monday and was also impressive, mustering speed to lead and winning with his ears pricked.
His trainer Gordon Richards has indicated the South Australian won’t race again before The Everest.
With Nature Strip secured to represent the TAB, Waller is still to announce which horse will line up in his stable’s Everest slot.
He has not ruled out picking his mare Haut Brion Her despite her defeat as favourite in the Golden Pendant (1400m) at Rosehill on Saturday but says he is in no rush to lock in a horse.
“It’s three weeks away so a lot will happen between now and then,” Waller said.
The premier trainer confirmed he will have a number of runners in the Group One Epsom Handicap on Saturday, nominating mare Funstar as his top seed.
He will also start George Main Stakes winner Kolding, who will carry 56.5kg, half a kilo less than he carted when seventh in the Doncaster Mile.
“He will run in the Epsom. He basically has to. He will have a big weight but he had a big weight in the Doncaster on a wet track and did pretty well,” Waller said.
“And it won’t be as strong as the Doncaster.”
Imaging, Mister Sea Wolf and perennial Group One placegetter Star Of The Seas will also be among Waller’s Epsom arsenal.
Top mare Verry Elleegant has been entered for the Hill Stakes at Randwick but is almost certain to head to Melbourne for Saturday’s Turnbull Stakes.