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Brilliant sprinter Nature Strip has done his chances of gaining a slot in The Everest no harm with a record breaking all the way win in the 2018  Group 2 $200,000 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) at The Valley today.

Nature Strip, above in yellow, red and blue colours, scores a record breaking win in the 20118 McEwen Stakes at The Valley.  Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

Nature Strip, above in yellow, red and blue colours, scores a record breaking win in the 20118 McEwen Stakes at The Valley. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

Nature Strip jumped on par with the rest of the field from the inside gate and winning jockey Mark Zahra had to push the speedster slightly to retain the lead from the speedy Sunday Escape who was also quick of the boxes.

The Darren Weir trained Nature Strip set a cracking pace mid race which resulted in the four year old setting a new Moonee Valley 1000m record of 56.95 sec.

The sizzling early pace took its toll on Nature Strip ($1.50 favourite) over the last fifty metres as the Gold Coast trained mare Houtzen at the good odds of $15 burst out of the pack to miss by a nose in causing a boiled.

The Anthony Freedman trained Shoals ($5) headed up the remainder of field in third position, three and three quarter lengths away.

“From our point of view, I guess the speed that they went, he was going to be found wanting just a smidgen late because he probably just needed it going at that speed,” Weir said.

“That will bring him on great. The second horse is a great horse and it was charging late and obviously the time backs it up.”

“People were querying him at 1200m but with that run under his belt and another run in the Moir I think we will be right.”

“Ridden differently to that (1200m will be ok). Today was about the barrier. Normally we wouldn’t rev horses out of the barrier like that, but if he didn’t use his barrier and go hard like he did, he would have been in behind them and then it becomes messy.”

“So we wanted to make it simple and use the barrier and try and lead.”

“All you can is win I guess and he got that done.”

While the winning margin was narrow, Weir was still happy with the win and said that the owners can now continue in negotiations to fill one of the two remaining slots in the $13m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 13.

“That is up to the owners,” Weir said.

“They said to me during the week that they had interest from a couple of parties.”

Whether or not Nature Strip does secured a slot in The Everest, the Nicconi gelding will still have his next run in the Group 1 $500,000 Charter Keck Cramer Moir Stakes (1000m) at The Valley on September 28.

“Hopefully we can get him to The Everest but I am more focused on the Group 1 next start for me, the 1000m back here and then onto The Everest after that.”

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.