Waller to climb racing’s highest peak with Nature Strip
Nature Strip became the only three-time Group 1 winner this season with a world-class sprinting performance in the TJ Smith Stakes which might be enough to clinch Horse of the Year honours.
But trainer Chris Waller indicated Nature Strip is unlikely to race again this season with his sights already set on the $15 million The Everest (1200m) in October.
Waller said plans to take Nature Strip to Royal Ascot in England have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and he has all but ruled out the Group 1 $500,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick in two weeks.
"I've mentioned previously I'd like to try Nature Strip over further but I don't think he needs to be tried over further now so the All Aged will be unlikely in two weeks,'' Waller said.
"Obviously the Everest will be his target race in the spring. No doubt his owners will be inundated with offers."
Waller said Nature Strip's absolute dominance of a crack field of sprinters in the TJ Smith Stakes was an example of the gelding's extraordinary speed.
"Nature Strip is a pleasure to train, one of the best sprinters I've had anything to do with and certainly the most exciting the way he races - you don't die wondering!'' Waller said.
"The speed he shows midrace is hard to explain. He just gets horses out of their comfort zone, yet he's travelling comfortably.
"I think racing on a bend at tracks like Randwick, it actually gives him the chance to find his rhythm properly and balance up."
Nature Strip gave Waller his eighth Group 1 for the season and took his stable prizemoney to more than $36.6 million - but he's not finished yet.
Waller said Tancred Stakes winner Verry Elleegant will lead his stable's charge for the $2 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) next Saturday.
With James McDonald riding Japanese raider Danon Premium, Waller has booked Nash Rawiller to ride Verry Elleegant.
The Hall of Fame trainer confirmed top filly Funstar won't run in the $500,000 Australian Oaks (2400m) but has been switched back in distance to 1600m and, alongside stablemates Noire and Danzdanzdance, will clash with Nettoyer in the Coolmore Legacy Stakes.
Waller is relying on Toffee Tongue and Nudge in the Oaks.
Doncaster Mile winner Nettoyer, Australian Derby hero Quick Thinker and Inglis Sires winner King's Legacy will race again during the Sydney autumn carnival.
Trainer Wendy Roche revealed she is keen to back up with Nettoyer in the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) on Day Two of The Championships at Royal Randwick next Saturday.
The Warwick Farm-based trainer said she altered Nettoyer's autumn carnival preparation to target the two 1600m Randwick mile races when the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the Brisbane winter carnival.
"I changed her training to get her ready for the Doncaster and the Coolmore Legacy,'' Roche said. "This mare has backed up extremely well before.''
Nettoyer scored a fairytale win in the Doncaster, giving Roche and jockey James Innes Jnr their first Group 1 wins.
But Innes won't be in the saddle for next Saturday's race as Glen Boss had a prior booking for the mare.
Kiwi training genius Murray Baker, who prepared his fifth Derby win in 12 years after previous successes with Jon Snow (2017), Mongolian Khan (2015), Dundeel (2013), and Nom Du Jeu (2008), said Quick Thinker could back up in the Group 3 $160,000 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick in two weeks.
"The only race is the Frank Packer Plate which is a set weights race,'' Baker said. "The horse is in form and we will definitely look at it.''
Baker said with the international travel restrictions, Quick Thinker will have to remain in Australia to spell over winter and then is most likely to be aimed at the Caulfield Cup in spring.
King's Legacy continued Team Snowden's outstanding season with their two-year-olds to win the Sires and will now be set for the Group 1 $500,000 Champagne Stakes (1600m) in two weeks.
"It's always been our target to go for the Sires and then the Champagne Stakes with King's Legacy,'' Snowden said.
"I have no reservations about him getting 1600m. He's a really nice colt and has a future.''
Redzel, the greatest prizemoney winner still in training, may have run his last race after his game third to Nature Strip and Santa Ana Lane in the TJ Smith Stakes.
Trainer Peter Snowden said he hasn't discussed retirement with Redzel's owners yet but suggested a TJ Smith placing would be a "good note" to end the $16.4 million earner's race career.
"Retirement is coming up soon and it would be a great way to retire him after a run like that,'' Snowden said.
"He has been such a great horse for the stable and I would like to see him go out on a good note but I haven't spoken to anyone about it yet.''
Redzel, a rising eight-year-old, was Nature Strip's immediate chaser throughout the TJ Smith Stakes and bravely held on for third.
"I had goosebumps watching that race and I don't normally have that feeling,'' Snowden said.
"He's not what he was two years ago but he's still racing well. I was so proud of his effort, he never stopped trying.''
Triple Crown syndicators Michael and Chris Ward will discuss various options with Redzel's ownership group and make a decision on the sprinter's race career in coming days.
In other big-race news, Castelvecchio, won't back up in the Queen Elizabeth after his heavy Derby defeat.
Brandenburg has pulled up so well after his Doncaster Mile third placing the colt's trainer John Sargent is keen to aim him at the All Aged Stakes, while the Jamie Richards-trained Melody Belle (fourth in the Doncaster) will join stablemate Te Akau Shark in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Originally published as Waller to climb racing's highest peak with Nature Strip