It is all systems go for superstar Nature Strip, who was again streets ahead of his rivals in winning a 900 metre barrier trial at Rosehill.
Stepping out for his second public appearance this season on Tuesday, Nature Strip pressed forward from a deep draw under regular rider James McDonald.
McDonald quickly had the world’s highest-rated sprinter trucking along three lengths in front before powering away for an effortless 5-1/2 length win over Fituese.
McDonald was glowing in his praise of the powerful sprinter, whose prize money ticked over the $5 million mark after he won the Group One T J Smith Stakes last campaign.
“He’s come back in good order, hasn’t lost any speed and he’s a bit smarter in the way he is executing.” McDonald told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
If there has been a chink Nature Strip’s armour, it has been his potential to be vulnerable first-up but the six-year-old is more seasoned and seems to have turned a corner.
“He seems pretty forward, even though he has a bit to go in his coat, he will improve off his first-up run and get better as his preparation gets deeper,” McDonald said.
“I think he’s in a better place for sure.”
Trainer Chris Waller will be seeking permission for Nature Strip to have a final exhibition gallop at Rosehill next Saturday before resuming in the Concorde Stakes at Randwick on September 5.
He will then tackle the Premiere Stakes en route to having a second crack at the world’s richest turf race, the $15 million The Everest for which he is the undisputed favourite in early markets.
Among the other spring carnival aspirants to turn in nice trials were unbeaten colts Peltzer and Doubtland, while all eyes were on Winx’s little sister Covent Garden who turned in an encouraging trial at her first appearance since an inauspicious debut on a wet track in June.
The race named after Covent Garden’s champion sibling, the Winx Stakes (1400m), will herald the return of Group One racing to Randwick on Saturday.
Triple Group One winner Verry Elleegant is among six entries for Waller, while New Zealand stars Melody Belle and The Bostonian also feature in the stellar list of nominations.
It’s the first major of the new season on a program which includes the Group Two Silver Shadow Stakes, the first leg of the Princess Series which has attracted 13 entries including Golden Gift winner Dame Giselle.