Nicconi’s Nature Strip Dominates World’s Best Sprinters at Royal Ascot
Thanks to Covid and the massive prizemoney on offer in Australia, it’s been a while since an Australian bred and trained sprinter has had the opportunity to dazzle on the world stage and Nature Strip showed last night exactly why we have the reputation for producing the best sprinters in the world.
Facing an elite field of sprinters that included leading US contender Golden Pal, the Chris Waller trained Nicconi gelding was in a class of his own.
He turned the Group I King’s Stand Stakes (5f) into a procession, charging away from the pack under James McDonald to win by four and a half lengths with the only rival in attendance the riderless horse Khaadem.
🚀🇦🇺 Wow! What a performance from NATURE STRIP!
The Australian raider takes the King's Stand Stakes. pic.twitter.com/rZsJs0qdJQ
— Ascot Racecourse (@Ascot) June 14, 2022
While race favourited Golden Pal blew the start, rising 8YO Nature Strip rose to the occasion and executed his race plan to perfection.
“That was pretty good. I got a bit of a scare at the 50 when the horse came to me with no rider on,” said James McDonald.
“The way Nature Strip quickened on the rise and executed his gallop was an unbelievable feeling coming up that rise. I didn’t think any horse could cope with him so when a horse did come to him I was so surprised, but it was a relief there was no jockey on.
“He is a brilliant horse. We’ve had an unbelievable year and this is the icing on a very big cake. I don’t think Chris could have him better for this race as he was in such unbelievable form before he even left Australia. Chris knows him like the back of his hand and he just made sure he was so right for the day. It’s been a big build up to get here – Ascot’s been talked about for a few years now – so for him to come here and do that is just unbelievable.”
“To win, it means a lot– I’d put this in my top five [winners],” Chris Waller said.
“We don’t get the chance to come up here and take on these horses too often, so that’s pretty special. It was breathtaking. It was a good display and he’s a good horse – and he has been for a long time.
“It’s a very important victory. Australia’s got a huge breeding and racing industry and we want to show the world our breeding and racing industries are important. We like to remind everybody of the power of Australia.”
That feeling when you fly to the other side of the world to bring your horse to #RoyalAscot, and he romps home in the G1 King's Stand Stakes 😆@CWallerRacing @AusHorse #ItPaysToBuyAustralian #NatureStrip pic.twitter.com/Bd0L4mSmRk
— World Horse Racing (@WHR) June 14, 2022
Australian Horse of the Year in 2019-2020 and Champion Australian Sprinter in 2020-2021 and reigning Everest winner, Nature Strip has the imposing record of 21 wins and eight placings from 38 starts with prizemoney topping $18million.
Bred by Golden Grove, Nature Strip was passed in as a yearling and is a half-brother to stakes-winner The Barrister from Group III winning Desert Sun (GB) mare Strikeline, who has not had a foal since 2016 according to studbook.
Nature Strip is the best performer for Widden Stud’s Nicconi, who ran in the 2020 Royal Ascot King’s Stand Stakes finishing fourth to Equiano.
He has something in common with the last Australian bred and trained winner of the King’s Stand Stakes in the 2012 heroine Black Caviar as both are from mares by Desert Sun.
Nicconi stands at Widden Stud Victoria at a fee of $22,000 and last year covered 118 mares.