A brilliant display of sustained speed saw the Chris Waller trained Nature Strip out-run his rivals to score an all the way win in the Group 1 $1.25m T J Smith Stakes (1200m) on Day One of The Championships at Randwick today.
In-form jockey James McDonald let Nature Strip find his rhythm in the early stages of the race and the flying chestnut had most of his rivals off the bit as he led the field into the run home.
McDonald still had a tight grip on Nature Strip ($4.20 favourite) topping the rise and when he said go, the speed machine put several lengths in his opposition in a twinkling of an eye.
Dual Everest winner Redzel ($15) led the charge to try and chase down Nature Strip but to no avail.
Redzel tried his hardest in the run to the line but was overhauled by last year’s T J Smith Stakes winner Santa Ana Lane ($9) who grabbed second spot by a nose over Redzel with Pierata ($5.50) charging late to finish a nose away back in fourth position.
The win of Nature Strip today was the first T Smith Stakes success for champion trainer Chris Waller and Group 1 winning jockey James McDonald.
“It’s an amazing race to watch when you’re training him, especially in a great field of sprinters,” Waller said.
“The best sprinters I would say around the world are assembled here today at Randwick and we’re very grateful to be still racing safely and doing it all responsibly, that’s just as rewarding in itself.”
“I just think he’s an amazing horse. First up he’s always a little bit soft and he showed that this prep but since then he’s been on his A game and James does a great job with him.
“What he does to his rivals is he makes it so hard for them to stay with him and gee from the 600m mark to the 300m mark you can see they’re all just struggling to stay with him. And he can still maintain it for 1200m.
“So wow, what a great horse and we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”