Darren Weir’s brilliant sprinter Nature Strip has been locked in to run for slot holders the ATC for the 2018 $13m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 13.
Nature Strip set a new 1000m course record at The Valley last Saturday when he led all of the way to record his eighth win from eleven starts when he nosed out Gold Coast mare Houtzen in the Group 2 $200,000 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes.
The Nicconi four year old remained unbeaten from four starts for the Darren Weir stable with the master trainer declaring him the fastest horse he has trained.
“He’s the fastest horse I’ve trained,” Weir said.
Nature Strip set a sizzling pace from the from the inside barrier and even though he looked to have had enough in the closing stages, he was still able to hold out the fast finishing Houtzen and record a new Moonee Valley 1000m record of 56.95 sec.
Weir is very confident that Nature Strip would run a strong 1200m of The Everest if he was allowed to be ridden more quietly and let someone else do the hard work up front.
“The speed that they went, he was going to be found wanting late,” Weir said.
“Normally we wouldn’t let horses out of the barrier like that but if he didn’t use his barrier and go hard like he did it becomes messy.
“There will be people querying the 1200m but with that run under his belt and another good, solid run in the Moir, I think we’ll be right.”
The signing up of Nature Strip to secure the ATC’s slot has left slot holder Max Whitby the only one left to lock in a runner.
ATC director Phil Morley is delighted to have secured Nature Strip to fill their slot and believes he is a genuine chance to figure in the finish.
“We are delighted to bring another dimension to TAB Everest with a sprinter of the promise of Nature Strip,” Morley said.
“Nature Strip broke a course record at his most recent win and will add an X-factor to the field.
“We believe Nature Strip is an excellent winning chance and will add to the quality and character of the race.”
Weir will also saddle up last year’s third placegetter Brave Smash who will run in the Chris Waller Racing owned slot.
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), Nature Strip (ATC) with one remaining slot yet to be filled.
Early betting for the 2018 The Everest at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.50 Redzel, $5 Trapeze Artist, $6.50 Nature Strip, Vega Magic, $12 Santa Ana Lane, In Her Time, U S Navy Flag, $16 Home Of The Brave, $18 English, Shoals, Invincible Star, $21 Brave Smash, $31 Pierata, $34 Winx, $41 Jungle Cat, $61 Graff, Happy Clapper, Kemeno, Le Romain, Prompt Response, Sunlight, Voodoo Lad, Zousain, $101 or better the rest.