Australian Horse of the Year Nature Strip atoned for his spring of near misses with an outstanding first-up performance to defeat the fellow Chris Waller-trained September Run in Saturday’s Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m).
Not having saluted since Sydney’s Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) last autumn, Nicconi six-year-old Nature Strip showed just how good he was fresh at Flemington in the 2021 Black Caviar Lightning results.
Given a perfectly-timed ride by the brilliant Jamie Kah, the classy chestnut was dynamic on-speed settled second behind pacemaker Pippie before flashing home up the inside in the closing stages.
“She’s going fantastic,” stable representative Jo Taylor told Thoroughbred Central of Kah.
“You certainly can’t fault her and it’s fantastic to have her on for the big days.”
Nature Strip has now won over $6.3 million in prize money and his Flemington record sits at five wins and a second from seven starts.
While his spring was somewhat disappointing, the galloper looks set for a huge autumn having won the Lightning Stakes over the 1000m to give champion female jockey Kah a treble on the day, her 63rd season win and fourth Group 1 victory.
“He showed today exactly why he was Australian Horse of the Year,” Taylor said.
“We didn’t quite see that in the spring, but he’s come back here today and he’s certainly stamped his run.”
The Waller stable had plenty to cheer about having prepared the quinella thanks to an eye-catching second late from returning Coolmore Stud Stakes winning filly September Run.
“She was just fantastic,” Taylor said of the filly.
“She loves the Flemington straight. Man she hit the line well.”
Further franking the form out of the Coolmore from the spring was runner-up Swats That resuming with an also fast-finishing third to round out the Black Caviar Lightning trifecta.
September Run ($3.40) and Swats That ($8) are now the first and second favourites in futures betting at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Group 1 $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) back at Flemington on March 6 for Super Saturday.