Force of Nature returns in T J Smith

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Nature Strip has regained his mantle as Australia’s premier sprinter, making a one-act affair of the T J Smith Stakes for the second year in succession.

But while he dictated terms and outsprinted his rivals 12 months ago, it was a more complete horse who lined up on Saturday.

Fierce-going for much of his career, Nature Strip has been painstakingly taught to conserve his early brilliance by trainer Chris Waller and the results were on show as he happily sat at the flank of leader Eduardo.

“Just one day after another, we just concentrate on getting him to settle, getting him to settle,” Waller said.

“He has barely led a trial this preparation. It is just little things.

“If I said he was improving one percent a week it would be too fast. It’s half a percent a month.

“Now that he has learned to settle, he might just go to a new level.”

Waller is already plotting a third tilt at The Everest in the spring and says his next campaign will revolve around that race.

Nature Strip gave James Mcdonald a Group 1 double after he claimed the Sires’ Produce Stakes on Anamoe.

He hit back at the horse’s critics and said Nature Strip had proven he was no longer vulnerable when taken on for the front.

“You get sick of all the talk during the week about how to upset him and this kind of garbage,” McDonald said.

“They’re not going to upset him anymore. He is pretty push button. I can safely say WBS (World’s Best Sprinter) for him.”

Nature Strip (+210 fav) cruised home two lengths ahead of Masked Crusader (+600), who ran on doggedly, with Eduardo (+260) holding third.

Bivouac finished a well-beaten sixth in an effort Hugh Bowman described as “disappointing”.

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