Victoria’s leading trainer Darren Weir has described Nature Strip as the best sprinter he as trained but the brilliant four year old is yet to secure a slot in the 2018 $13m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 13.
Nature Strip was a last start six lengths winner in the Listed $100,000 Lightning Stakes (1050m) at Morphettville on July 28 and will be on show for an Everest slot when he takes on a slick weight for age field in the Group 2 $200,000 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) at The Valley on Saturday.
“I think the horse deserves his spot in the race,” Weir told RSN 927’s Racing Pulse program.
“He’s the fastest horse I’ve had no doubt, he’s amazing what he can do over half a mile.
“He’s just a beautiful movement horse and has got a huge cruising speed, so yeah he’s a really good horse.”
“I understand what people, the slot-holders, have a small query at him at 1200-metres, because they haven’t seen him at the top level,” he said.
“But there’s no problem for us with him at the 1200-metres, honestly his first start for us he relaxed beautifully and sort of won great and done it right and had it been 1200-metres that day he probably would have won by further.
“His next two starts, yes he raced a little bit keen and probably didn’t go as good second-up, but third-up he was great and he’s getting better and better the horse is in great shape.
“The plan is to give him a quiet little jump out (Tuesday) morning and then head to Saturday and hopefully run well and then get a bit more interest in him.”
Nature Strip is currently sharing the third line of betting with Vega Magic at $7 for The Everest at Ladbrokes.com.au behind the Gerald Ryan trained Trapeze Artist at $4.80 and last year’s winner Redzel at $5.
A win by Nature Strip in the McEwen Stakes will see Nature Strip firm in The Everest betting and also attract interest from the two remaining slot holders, the ATC and Max Whitby.
Weir already has Japanese import Brave Smash locked into an Everest spot and the six year old will run for the slot owned by Chris Waller Racing.
Brave Smash ran third behind Redzel and Vega Magic in the inaugural running of The Everest last year and ran a bold first up race last Saturday when third to Ball Of Muscle in the Group 3 $150,000 The Heath 1100 Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield.
Trapeze Artist will kick off his Everest campaign when he resumes in the Group 2 $200,000 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill on Saturday while Redzel showed that he was on track to make it back to back wins in The Everest 2018 with a stunning first up victory in the Group 3 $160,000 Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick last Saturday.
Confirmed runners for the 2018 The Everest: Trapeze Artist (Aquis, slot holder), In Her Time (TAB), Redzel (Yulong Investments), Brave Smash (Chris Waller Racing), Shoals (The Star), English (Damion Flower), Santa Ana Lane (Inglis), U S Navy Flag (Coolmore), Vega Magic (James Harron) and Invincible Star (GPI Racing) with two remaining slots yet to be filled.
Early betting for The Everest 2018 at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.80 Trapeze Artist, $5 Redzel, $7 Vega Magic, Nature Strip, $11 In Her Time, Kementari, Santa Ana Lane, $15 U S Navy Flag, Shoals, $16 Pierata, $21 Invincible Star, Brave Smash, $26 English, $34 Graff, Happy Clapper, Kemono, Winx, $41 Jungle Cat, Le Romain, $51 or better the rest.