Nicconi’s Nature Strip Simply the Best
Any questions as to who is the best sprinter in Australia right now were settled on the first day of The Championships at Randwick on Saturday.
A world-class field of sprinters lined up for Saturday’s Group I ATC TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) and the fleet-footed Nicconi gelding Nature Strip saw them all off in style.
Allowed to stride along by James McDonald, Nature Strip had them off the bit on the turn and he was untroubled to defeat last year’s winner Santa Ana Lane by two lengths with two time Everest winner Redzel a head back in third.
A first in the race for McDonald and trainer Chris Waller, it was the fourth Group I for the strikingly handsome 5yo chestnut gelding whose form advances to 14 wins and 2 seconds from 23 starts with earnings of $5,144,035.
“The first furlong with him is key but he is getting better and better and it’s a joy to be associated with him,’’ McDonald said.
“Originally, I thought there would be someone there to pressure me a little bit. I could see them coming across.
‘’Nature Strip was waiting for me to click him up, he went through his gears really well. From about the 800m I felt like he was airborne from there and he was high steaming from the top of the straight.
“I knew he was going to be vulnerable late but it was just a matter of getting enough out of him towards the end. He is just going so well.”
Waller said he would be keen to stretch out the distances, but does not see that happening any time soon.
“We’d be very tempted but do we need to? I’d say there’d be plenty of people chasing him in the Everest and that’s a big race,” Waller said.
“So, wow, what a great horse and we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
Passed in at the 2016 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, where he was offered by Golden Grove Stud, Nature Strip is a half-brother to stakes-winner The Barrister from Group III winning Desert Sun (GB) mare Strikeline, a $500,000 earner who was a 6-time winner including the Group III Ian McEwen Trophy at Moonee Valley, which is the same race in which her son set the track record.