Nature Strip given Newmarket Handicap top weight
Nature Strip will join an elite group of gallopers if he wins the Newmarket Handicap after being given the top weight of 58kg.
The Chris Waller-trained gelding will become only the fourth horse in the past 50 years to carry 58kg or more to win the Group One 1200m sprint at Flemington should he emerge victorious on March 7.
Only Shaftesbury Avenue (58kg, 1991), Black Caviar (58kg, 2011) and Hay List (58.5kg, 2011) have achieved that feat.
Nature Strip is a triple Group One winner in the past 12 months having taken out The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill, the Moir Stakes (1000m) at The Valley and the Darley Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington in November.
A total of 30 horses remain in contention for the Newmarket Handicap after Tuesday’s release of weights.
Lightning Stakes winner Gytrash is second top weight with 56kg with Zoutori and Deprive next in line with 54kg.
Loving Gaby, the winner of the Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley last October and a first-up third in the Lightning Stakes has 51.5kg and is one of 11 three-year-olds remaining in the entries, which also includes Exceedance (53kg), Bivouac (53kg) and Libertini (50kg).
Should Nature Strip not be an acceptor, weights will be raised 1kg to reach a minimum top weight of 57kg at acceptance time.
The final field with barriers will be declared on March 4.
See full list of 2020 Newmarket Handicap Weights