The Sunday Mail (Queensland)



WHEN Nature Strip is in this mood, there isn’t a sprinter in the world that can match him.

Nature Strip was at his arrogant, explosive best in the Group 1 $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick yesterday.

It is the enigma that is Nature Strip that makes him so exciting.

He has often been maligned, even ridiculed, but then he reminds everyone of his extraordin­ary sprinting talent.

This was Nature Strip at his commanding best.

Eduardo, his main rival, came out of the barriers brilliantl­y and crossed Nature Strip within the first 100m.

Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller took particular satisfacti­on as Nature Strip left his critics eating their words again.

“He’s a super horse and just showed another dimension today,’’ Waller said.

“We knew he couldn’t go head to head (with Eduardo) and expect to win the race.

“I think that brought us undone in the spring. We were getting taken on and coming off second best and left a sitting duck.

“Anything that wants to take him on gets beat as well. We’re beyond that, we wanted to be a bit more mature this preparatio­n.

“His run in the Lightning Stakes, he settled off the speed and blew them away. Last start it was a pretty good effort, he had a wide draw and had to do quite a bit of work.

“But today it just worked out perfectly and full credit to James (McDonald) and my team.”

Nature Strip ($3.10 favourite) sprinted clear over the rise and scored by two lengths.

If there was an unlucky runner it was definitely Masked Crusader ($7) who was held up for a run at the top of the straight but he finished powerfully to claim second, with Eduardo ($3.60) nearly a length away third.

McDonald rode his second Group 1 winner for the day – he had won the Inglis sires on Anamoe – and felt the time was right to return serve at some of Nature Strip’s critics.

“You get sick of all the talk during the week about how to upset him and this kind of garbage,’’ McDonald said.,

“They’re not going to upset him anymore. He is pretty push button. I can safely say WBS (World’s Best Sprinter) for him.

“When he is winning, he is everyone’s favourite but when he is losing, they quickly bag him but he is not getting beaten far. He is a bloody good horse.”

It’s easy to forget Nature Strip is the reigning Horse of the Year and the TJ Smith was his sixth win at Group 1 level, his 16th career success from 30 starts and took his career earnings to $7.92 million.

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